Are Schools Modeling Healthy Behaviors?

Yesterday, I had the honor of talking with these amazing people. Aimie and Daniel Stillings are traveling the country and the world to create a documentary on Nature Play.

As I sat and spoke with Aimie, yesterday, I started to process and think more and more about the tests our Children are being required to take about every 4th day school.  The tests that they all prepare to take in 3rd – 10th (and now 11th) grades. The fact that we are “teaching” all children all the way down to Kindergarten to “take tests.”  (Bubble in the correct answer)

How does this relate to health?  Our schools are where our children learn the behaviors they will have for a lifetime.  Yes, many habits and such are learned from the parents, but ask most parents of high school students and you will find they are learning “new” habits while at school.



  • Our children are being asked to SIT for 6-7 hours a day
  • Our children are given twenty (20) minutes to eat their lunch
  • Our children are being denied recess
  • Physical Education classes are being scaled way back
  • Our children are being asked to complete page after page of worksheets, even in Kindergarten
  • Administrators and teachers are telling them that walking from one class to another is considered “a break”
  • Our children are being rewarded for good behavior or correct answers with candy, pizza parties, and the like
  • Our children are being TESTED every 3-4 days

Our country is in dire straights when you consider the health of our nation.  80% of the top 4 health problems in the United States are preventable through daily lifestyle choices!


We ask our children to sit at their desks and pay attention for 6-7 hours a day – as young as Kindergarten.


By asking our children to sit still for 6 hours a day we are modeling risky behavior for their future health. Studies are showing that sitting for long periods can be VERY detrimental to our health:

Sedentary lifestyles increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. “For people who sit most of the day, their risk of heart attack is about the same as smoking.” ~ Martha Grogan, Cardiologist, Mayo Clinic

Many of our children are given 20 minutes to eat their lunch, if this includes their travel time and time in line to purchase that meal, this can quickly whittle down to 10-12 minutes to eat. This models poor eating habits that can stretch into a lifetime of issues.  What happens when we eat too quickly?  Check out the information from LiveStrong on the topic of eating too fast.

Our children are being denied recess!

With all the stress being placed on test scores, there just isn’t time for recess! We need another 15 minutes for English Language Arts or Math class.  All fine and dandy, but what good is a test score when you are out of shape, your body begins falling apart in your 2o’s and you are spending days, months and years in doctor’s offices, medical centers and hospitals.  Not to mention, the plethora of research pointing to children retaining more information and grasping information better when given a break and then coming back to the classroom!

How many of us would willingly take a job with 13 minutes to eat and no “breaks” during the day.


Our child is lucky, she gets PE 3 times a week! Many districts across the United states, AND our higher grade levels are NOT being given physical education classes.  Those are considered optional classes and if the student requires remedial action due to another test score, these options are no longer on the table. 

I remember in grade school, Mr. Jones taught us how to “fall down correctly.”  Told us that if we learned and then used it if we fell, we would not hurt ourselves as badly. We thought it was really silly at the time, as an adult, I now see the importance of all he taught us about moving on a daily basis to stay healthy!  Our students need to learn to stay active, they need to be taught to enjoy activities so they can remain physically strong and healthy.  When our muscles atrophy due to inactivity we begin feeling more and more pain on a daily basis.  I do NOT want that for my child or any other child!

Worksheets are the norm!

Gone are the days of make believe, kitchen sets, dress up clothes and such.  Our children are no longer, for the most part, encouraged to move around and explore and learn through play – even in kindergarten our children sit at desks most of the day and complete worksheets.  They move to the carpet for story time, then return to their seats to complete an activity worksheet on the story.  Movement is gone from the classroom due to the perception of chaos and the need to score better on end of course exams… YES, END OF COURSE EXAMS FOR OUR KINDERGARTEN STUDENTS.

Moving from your seat to the restroom or another classroom is not enough to be called a break!

What would be your thoughts if your boss told you that your breaks would consist of the time you spent walking from your desk to a colleague’s desk, or the restroom, or the copy machine.  I have actually had administrators tell us that this is a break because they are not being asked to complete work at this time!  I THINK NOT!

Candy is your reward for a correct answer!

So, our children are snarfing down their lunch, not given time to play and move around, sitting for hours and slowing their metabolism and when they answer a question correctly or do something good, they are rewarded with a piece of candy or a mini-marshmallow?  How is this modeling healthy behaviors?  Having a pizza party because their class won a competition is NOT modeling healthy behaviors.  Perhaps, they could be rewarded with some additional time on a PLAYGROUND and be allowed to PLAY!

I was NOT rewarded with a skittle in class if I answered correctly and I still learned and fell in LOVE with learning!  If our classrooms have sunk so low that we must entice our children like Pavlov’s Dogs in order to get them to answer, we have some huge problems.

Finally, our children are being tested every 3-4 days as mandated by districts, states, and our federal government.

I liken this to someone hired for a new job.  You are told to learn on the go and not take breaks. Every 3-4 days someone comes in and administers an exam to you on what you have been learning. The test was not written by someone familiar with your industry so it is difficult to know how to answer the questions.  You will never be allowed to review the test, so you will be unable to discover exactly what you missed and where you made the error. 

Would you be stressed in an environment such as this? Of course you would be stressed!  So are our children.


The dialog has begun.  Parents have begun standing up and speaking out to fix our public schools for our children.

SPEAK OUT!  – Your child is our future! Your child’s future should be a future of joy and learning, and good health!

When we eliminate the high stakes testing, ALL high stakes testing, there will no longer be any need to eliminate recess, no need to eliminate Physical Education classes, no need to rush through meals, and no need to sit for 6 hours a day to complete worksheet after worksheet.  When our children are taught to LOVE LEARNING there is no need to bribe them with candy or treats.

Join your local group working toward eliminating high stakes testing, talk with your board of education, and vote!  For the health of our children and the health of our nation, PLEASE STAND UP!!!

Thank you

If you would like additional information about groups in your area, or how to begin a group in your area, please contact me.

Holiday Stresses… NOT a must.

With Christmas approaching quickly, so do the stresses of the season.

I can’t help but remember the best advice that I kept and used during my (2nd & final) wedding, "If its not there (other than the groom and the official) you don’t need it!" 

Don’t stress the little things. Heck, don’t stress the big ones… Five years from now, will it really matter that the turkey wasn’t ready until an hour past dinner time? 

Laugh now, and know you will be laughing years from now as well. Family, friends, and the Reason for this Season are much more important than what time dinner is served, if the perfect gift didn’t arrive until 3 days later, or if you served the mashed potatoes in the pan instead of a fancy bowl.

Take time to Relax, Breathe, Hug, Talk, and just keep it simple!


Here are some additional suggestions from a fellow blogger.

When we don’t have family in the area, we take our baby girl to the beach, or a theme park to make memories of our own. We make new traditions. (I do still take time to bake bread, make noodles, and cookies, but I don’t stress about when they will be finished, just that we make them…and we make them year round rather than try to force it all into 25 days.)

I’ll be making a comforter for a friend’s son this year, and I will be visiting a local “bead shop” for some other gifts for nieces. (hope you aren’t reading this) Smile

We are simplifying, buying and supporting local businesses, and focusing more on why we celebrate rather than on “what we got”.

Merry Christmas!  I pray your Holiday season will be stress free and full of new, and old, cherished memories.

I Believe…

What ever we believe becomes our reality.  If we believe we are unworthy, we work to make ourselves unworthy.  HOWEVER, If we believe we can change, if we believe we are worth our own time and investment, then we become such and those around us begin to taken notice.

I believe

A friend of mine often says, “I am on a Journey” and I think I’ve actually opened the door to that vehicle and am beginning to get in. The journey has to do with being mindful, deliberate, and gentle in all that I do.  Continue reading →

Working to change my own stress habits.

Thank you, Madeline Ebelini!

Here’s the back story.

Today, I drove my 5 year old daughter and I the 35 miles to the drag strip to watch daddy race.  We’ve been having some vibration issues in the Yukon, but had been unable to diagnose the cause.

It rained.  They cancelled the race, and may of us were standing around, discussing the cancellation when a friend looked at the rear tire of my vehicle.  BIG bubble on the rear passenger tire.  Here’s where my stress kicked in.  I knew I had to drive my vehicle the 35 miles home with my 5 yr old in the back. Sad smile  Continue reading →

Is it the Stress, or the habits we have to cope?

It has been very well documented that stress and those with exorbitant amounts of stress in their life have a greater chance of acquiring high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, obesity, and many other dis-eases.  A couple of very intelligent friends of mine once asked me, “Is your life REALLY that stressful, or have you gotten into the habit of allowing the stress to consume you?”

stress leads to disease

I wasn’t sure what they meant, or if they were crazy at that point.

My entire life, I have enjoyed a full life; on a schedule to fit it all in.  I don’t like to sit still, I want to be moving and doing at full speed.  I’ll have time to rest, when I die, right?

Enter an entirely new thought, a new concept for me. (I am still using my calendar and my schedule, but the stress is different – for me.)

We live our lives surrounded by stressors.  Some of which we can choose to eliminate, some of which we cannot eliminate.  We live our lives surrounded by other people. Some of which we can choose to eliminate, some of which we cannot. Smile  The difference comes when we decide to look at it differently from within.

I have begun working to implement meditation into my daily life. Not an easy task when I’ve already added 30 minutes in the morning for bible study, my five year old is waking up earlier, I am training for a 60-mile walk, I have a home to maintain, Rotary, Christian Chamber, a loving husband, my personal business, Bible study classes… and life.

Many times things come up and I get frustrated and stressed because it interrupts my busy schedule. I get stressed because His plan, or someone else’s plan blocks my schedule.  Now, yesterday, an epiphany.

The story:

I was sitting on the deck in the middle of a slough being led through a meditation.  The birds are singing, the wind is blowing my hair in my face, children scream and laugh in the distance, I cough, a car squeals its tires, a plane flies over… How am I supposed to meditate when………… ahhhhhh   It’s the experience, its all a part of the experience.  It doesn’t have to be a bad thing, it just has to be a part of the thing.  I realized I can just accept it as a part of the experience. I don’t have to judge it as right or wrong, I can just allow it to be.

Take time to be mindful for your health

Thank you, Paula English, Carolyn Wightman, and Madeline Ebelini, for opening my eyes and allowing me to begin to LET GO and just let some of life happen.  I don’t have to give everything up and allow everything, but I can determine what I can not change and allow it to be a part of the experience.

Reflection walk

I have heard others say that just 30 seconds of true meditation a day can drastically improve your health.  I am committing to 10 minutes a day for the rest of my life.  I understand that I am not perfect and at times something may interfere, but I don’t have to beat myself up for missing it, just look at the experience as part of life and go on.

Everything killed by hogs yet life prevails

You can do the same. I am not saying it is easy. I committed to an 8 week class to  understand it, not even really knowing what it was about before I began, but praising God I was lead to it, just as I enrolled with a business coach to improve that part of my life. If you would like to know more about how to find a MBSR class near you or to discuss other ways to reduce the effects of stress on your body and health, feel free to contact me.

Thank you for joining me today.

Your body needs time to De-Stress, let it.

Recently, a girlfriend and I decided to make Friday mornings our time to de-stress.  Our time to recharge, bounce ideas off each other, soak up some vitamin D and let life, just be.  Here is a tale of today’s not so typical trip to the beach.  The moral of the story is, take it, as it is, but not too seriously, and find the joy in all situations!  If you have the time to read it, enjoy our adventure from today.


Today, was a day that we really needed it, and we TOOK it.  Life didn’t give me a stress free morning, I took it.  Let me explain.  On the way to the beach, I carefully merged into the next lane, already occupied by a beautiful blonde lady with a very foul mouth.  I tried to apologize, but I don’t think she could hear me through the rolled up windows and over her 4-letter words. (Very much, my bad) No one injured, no cars damaged or touched, all is well, my heart raced for a couple of seconds, then I let it go.


We continued to the beach, the clouds were dark, but nothing more than a sprinkle hit the windshield. We got out, had GOOD parking, and walked our 1/4 mile trek down the beach to our favorite spot.  Momma got things set up while CLB got a good start on her mud pie. It began to sprinkle…

CLB curled up between my feet and knees and hunkered down over my thigh, while I curled over her to protect her from the stinging rain, and attempted to keep her warm. All was well, she was protected from the rain and was warm, then 3 kayakers (obviously as crazy as we were) paddled by right next to the shore.  The big guy got caught on the sand bar in front of us & couldn’t get off, so I stood up and ventured out into the surf to assist him in getting off the sand bar.


Now she was cold!  I dug out a towel, wrapped her in it &  put her tiny chair over her head to try to keep some of the pelting rain from hitting her.  She never made a sound, just snuggled up and said, “what an adventure mommy”.  The rain didn’t let up. The surf, already at high tide, was coming up farther and threatening to wash away the blue crab claw we had found on our way down the beach, so she jumped up to go save it… then I had to move everything farther up the beach to keep us out of the surf. LOL

For a fleeting moment I thought a tsunami might get us. I laughed at my silliness, settled down in my sandy chair while my 5 year old quickly returned to her position on my lap with her beach chair over her head.  (What a site we must have been.)

Fourty-five minutes have now passed.  We’ve watched lines of pelicans drafting each other on the wind currents, fish jump out of the water, the skyline from Ft. Myers Beach come and go and come again.  Ahh the beauty of nature.  It’s still raining, and LOOK!  My friend, her son, and her sister-in-law are walking toward us, down the beach, in the pelting rain!  LAUGHTER AND PURE HAPPINESS – we are not the only crazies out today.


After an hour and a half of rain, the beautiful sunshine came out, warmed us up, and allowed us a bit of time to talk with each other and laugh about our WONDERFUL ADVENTURE ON THE BEACH!  Memories to laugh about.

The goal today was to think of nothing else, and just relax and enjoy our surroundings.  I definitely thought of nothing but our surroundings as my motherly instincts to keep my child warm set in. I enjoyed the joy and laughter of my die hard friend who walked all that way in the rain to join me.

We got our vitamin D for the day, we got our time on the beach today, and we got memories!  It definitely was NOT your typical day at the beach.



Thank you, Heather & family for braving the weather and enjoying the morning with us!