Tips for Teachers and Homeschoolers
You're in the school cafeteria and you see yet one more elementary-aged student grab those chips, cookies, and chocolate milk. How can you get him to choose healthier snacks without a hassle? Teaching elementary kids about healthy living and nutrition involves more than just telling them their choices are unhealthy. As a homeschool teacher and health nut, I have been known to come up with creative ways to get kids to think healthy.
Tell them what foods are healthy and explain why. Don't just tell the students to eat more fruits and veggies. Show them why they should. Pictures and stories can help drive home the point. You can also have each kid act out the parts of various fruits and veggies to show what they do. This keeps things lighthearted and entertaining, which is a great strategy for elementary students.
Adopt an exercise plan and explain the benefits. Use dance, active play, or other kid-friendly exercise to make healthy living fun for elementary kids. Explain how each move is beneficial to the body. But also make it an enjoyable experience so the kids will want to continue. If you can incorporate a routine in your daily classroom activities, that's great. Switch it up now and then, too so the kids don;t get bored.
Explain why certain foods are unhealthy using pictures of what it does. Children are very visual. You don't want them to think they need to be as skinny as a rail. But at the same time, let them know that being overweight can have damaging effects on the body. Show them age-appropriate pictures of what the body looks like on the inside and outside from certain diseases. Showing them pictures of the effect food has on their bodies will be much more effective than just telling them. Seeing is believing, right?
Use fun and catchy songs and rhymes to teach healthy living. Music is fun for kids and it's also easy to remember. Make up some fun songs to illustrate the points you make about nutrition. You may be surprised at the impact it will have. Let the kids make up their own songs and dances, too. They'll be proud of themselves and also be absorbing the info.
Give each kid their own weekly wipe-off charts for their home fridge. Giving the kids something to use to take home and track their results helps keep the lesson active. Healthy living is not something to just learn one day. It should be a way of life. Show the elementary students how to track what they are eating and see if they are making the correct choices. It could even help the rest of their family too.
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