School is starting in the next few weeks. Are there are changes you’d like to see in your child’s school, like less sugar in the classroom or more events that get kids moving? If so, make this the year you get involved! Here are three ways to jump in:
1. Attend PTA meetings. It’s the very best way to know what’s going on and have a voice in school functions. Consider these next steps:
- Suggest an alternative to the typical junk food fundraisers. Check out this guide to healthy (and profitable) fundraisers from Center for Science in the Public Interest.
- Read this guide for parents from Corporate Accountability International if there’s fast food marketing in your child’s school and you’d like to change that.
- Work with other like-minded parents to brainstorm solutions to what bothers you. Teachers and administrators hear plenty of griping, but concrete ideas (and offers to help) are much more effective. I started this simple Fruit Ninjas program after seeing how much fruit was going uneaten at breakfast.
2. Join the school’s wellness committee (or start one). You can create wellness programs and even help shape policies concerning food and physical activity. Consider these next steps:
- Help create a wellness policy for the school district (or revise an existing one). Check out this model wellness policy from Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Research that you can use as a template.
- Get inspiration and ideas for wellness-related events. Read about the annual Health Challenge held at my children’s school.
- Learn how to approach administrators with from a different angle (plus how to speak their language) from Don’t Panic Mom.
3. Foster good communication with your child’s teacher. Ask (politely!) about how food is used, if at all, in the classroom. Consider these next steps:
- Get facts about food in the classroom from The Lunch Tray’s Food In the Classroom Manifesto, plus ways educators can help get junk food out of schools with these ideas from Spoonfed.
- Ask about celebrating birthdays without food–or go the non-food route for your own child and see if it catches on. Read my post 10 Food-Free Ways to Celebrate School Birthdays for creative ideas that kids and parents will love.
- Arm yourself with the facts on candy rewards in the classroom. This White Paper from Casey Hinds of USHealthy Kids is a terrific summary of the current research and includes food-free strategies for classroom management.
- Find out how to work with teachers to create a healthier classroom. School Bites created this Healthy Classrooms Initiative that includes resources and ideas you can use in your own school.
Good luck, have fun, and be part of the change!