Schools are the best place where children can learn and practice good nutrition. The school environment provides good opportunities for teachers to make an excellent impact on children’s health. What a child eats now has a significant impact on the child’s future health, throughout the adolescence stage to adulthood. A good child’s development depends on the consumption of nutritious food. Consuming nutritious food makes the child to perform well academically and feel good physically. Children poor eating habits is adding up to the rising cases of disorders, dental cavities, obesity and other child deficiency disorders which can be prevented by good food. Poor eating habits are likely to continue into the child's adulthood and this increases the chance of getting chronic diseases that include cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
One most important message that should be passed to children is that eating more fruits and vegetables is good for health. In “my plate," vegetables and fruits should take half of it with fruits having the bigger proportion. The other half of the plate would contain the less recommended foods like, grains, proteins among others. Candies should take the least promotion of the plate.
The teacher can use some website resources such as Kid’s nutrition dictionary. This is a resource filled with many nutrition terms. The children's version provides audio automatically the term nutrition is selected. Besides making the child understand the meaning of the terms, it also assists in correcting pronunciation.
Interactive Food labels and tutorials is another online resource, which the teacher can use. Kids will enjoy hearing the chef talking about different parts of a food label. It also has challenges, which allow the child to select the food label with the correct answer. This will provide kids with a fun way of learning about nutrition.
The other way to involve kids is by involving kids in activities that promote staying healthy, for example, engaging the children in mass teeth brushing as a class.
The teacher can use some books with pictorials showing heath children and the food they eat, and other showing unhealthy or obese children and the foods that cause the obesity in children. Other support materials like charts can be used to teach a child the importance of good health and nutrition.
In order to encourage children to take food they always fear to take, teachers can act to influence them by involving children in preparation of the food, and sit down with them to eat. Fear of new things (neophobia) is the mechanism used by omnivores, including humans, to assist in preventing the consumption of harmful substances. In schools, teachers create a supportive environment that encourages children to enjoy and have fun on food experiences. The child acceptance of new foods is a slow process especially to children between the ages of 2 to 5 years.
In schools, teachers should act as role models for the young scholars. Teachers are the people who influence the eating behavior of elementary school students. Therefore, teachers play a vital role in determining student health eating behaviors, food choices and students engagement in regular physical activities. By engaging with children during mealtime, and sitting down to have a meal with them, teachers become role models to children. Teachers will be able to model healthy eating behavior when they sit and have the same meal with children.
Children can be able to understand the importance of heath diet roles in boosting body’s immunity to diseases. A healthy diet is the one containing foods rich in minerals, vitamins and beta-carotene. They help to build body immunity to diseases and infections. A well-nourished body is more resistant to colds, flu and other diseases. During an illness, children are encouraged to eat their favorite health foods such as bananas, plain toast and many fluids. Vitamin boost can be achieved by taking pure fruit juice. Teaching children about the food they could consume when they are ill, encourages them to take the recommended food during illness to encourage quick recovery. Teaching enables the children to appreciate the benefits of good nutrition and health in support of childhood optimal growth. Children require variety of nutrient in their food, in their diet. Therefore, nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, whole grains, vegetables fish and sufficient calories are highly recommended in order to encourage proper growth and development
Early childhood educators should understand that they play a significant part and role in the development and maintenance of good and healthy eating habits in young children and should consequently help the children to improve their health through eating. In order to enhance children understanding on a healthy diet, the teachers should use several ways to encourage children to consume more certain foods and less for others. It is the role of schools and other early childhood learning institutions to provide a good environment to learn, this learning includes teaching the young ones on the importance of healthy foods consumption and how to make choices on healthy foods. Early childhood education should provide a good opportunity for children to make good decision on foods, and hence, such an environment should be well structured to support and promote healthy eating.
Nutrition in the Classroom- Free Fun Tools, Games for Teaching Children Healthy Nutrition, K-5 Schools Health, Nutrition, Kids Healthy Food Instruction
The health youth facts
The Impact of Teachers and Families on Young Children’s Eating Behaviors
National nutrition Resource List
Brainpopjr.com - BrainPOP Jr. - Home Page
www.brainpopjr.com - Video lessons for K-3 students. Topics include science, health, writing, reading, social studies and math.
http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/Teaching resources, children's and teacher books, lesson plans, book lists, classroom resources, educational products from Scholastic for PreK to 12 teachers.