Thursday, July 23, 2009

Tips To Keep Your Students Healthy At School

Monitoring your students’ health while they’re at school isn’t a specific part of the job description for a teacher, but it’s still important. Whether you teach elementary school kids or college students, or you teach in a disadvantaged district or a well-funded private institution, keeping your students healthy and safe is a challenge. Some children arrive to school without eating breakfast and no packed food or money for lunch. Others are junk food addicts who sneak food at their desks, and still other students may have unhealthy relationships with food that could turn into an eating disorder. Between the grading, lessons, field trips and test taking, here are some helpful tips for teachers concerned about student health.
  • Talk about it. If you never mention healthy eating, hygiene or sickness, students will assume it’s a topic that’s off-limits in the classroom. Make sure that your students know how important their health is, and that it’s always considered an open discussion.
  • Designate a time to ask health questions. Even if you’re not the science teacher, designate time once or twice a week to let students ask health-related questions. Set up a box in front of the room or by your desk to let kid drop anonymous questions.
  • Explain to students how food impacts their body. Let them know which foods give them energy and help them grow, and which foods cause harm to their body or make them feel sleepy.
  • Encourage students and parents to bring healthy snacks during parties. You don’t have to serve carrot sticks during the Halloween party, but you can ask parents to bring healthier options like oatmeal cookies, 100% juice instead of soda, or baked chips instead of fried goodies.
  • If you’re concerned about a students’ health, speak up. Depending on the student’s age, you may have to speak with his or her parent first. But if a student is sleeping all day, losing or gaining weight rapidly, or is showing other signs of being unhealthy, speak up.
  • Keep your classroom stocked. Always have Kleenex, hand sanitizer, and regular hand soap on hand, and encourage kids to wash their hands after sneezing.
  • Set a good example. Eat healthy snacks at your desk and bring healthy lunches to show your students that eating right isn’t hard.
This post was contributed by Tara Miller, who writes about online teaching degrees. She welcomes your feedback at TaraMillerr00 at