As instructors, it is our job to educate. In the standard school system, this includes the obvious subjects such as math, science, history, and language arts. One thing that is usually not in our curriculums however, is health education. We teach our students how to grow up to be wise so they can function in the world and hopefully get good jobs, but we completely ignore generic health education. Occasionally we will have a one-time health day where students can learn about healthy eating and hygiene, but these classes quickly come and go, and students typically leave none-the-wiser.
Some might argue that it is the job of the parents to teach their children how to be healthy. While this is certainly true, we wouldn’t be doing our duty as instructors if we never taught health education simply based on the notion that kids will learn healthy lifestyles from their parents. Fact is, many parents don’t teach their children how to be healthy for numerous reasons, sometimes simply because they don’t understand healthy lifestyles themselves.
While we can’t ensure that our students will always be the healthiest people on the planet, there are things we can do in our classroom to both educate and promote healthy lifestyles. Here are just a few suggestions to encourage healthy living in the classroom:
Encourage Healthy Eating – All of us have walked through the busy lines in the school cafeteria to get to the chicken strips and French fries, meanwhile walking by the completely empty salad bar. While it can be hard to turn down delicious fried foods, your students will notice what you do, even when you aren’t “teaching” them. Skip the bad stuff and go for the healthy lunch instead. Also, allow healthy snacks in class, such as almonds or fresh fruit.
Spend Time Outside – Most schools these days have an outside classroom. These should be utilized! Being outside encourages exercise, and is just as good for the soul as it is for the body. Go on nature walks with your students, and take trips to the local zoo or national park. Teaching kids to be active at a young age will ensure a lifetime of healthy habits.
Educate About the Human Body – It’s important that our students understand how to take care of themselves. Decorate your classroom with posters about the proper steps for hand washing. Get a few dental care models to have around the classroom. Have assorted health puzzles your students can solve in their free time. Children will learn much more effectively when they can have fun doing it!
Our students need to learn how to live healthy lives, and we can’t always assume they will learn at home. Take these steps to ensure your students will develop healthy life habits; they will thank you in the future.