What exactly do we mean when we talk about physical activity at daycare and preschool? How do you know if you provide enough of the "right" kind of opportunities to help kids get moving? What can you do to encourage more active play?
In short, aim for a wide variety of activities that get all kids moving at the same time. Sprinkle activities throughout the day in age-appropriate lengths of time.
There is some variation in recommendations for children five years and under. We often refer to the best practice of 120 minutes per day, recommended by the National Assocation for Sport and Physical Education, knowing that this is more than the "1 hour" recommended for ages 6 to adult.
We're in the habit of celebrating with food—usually sweets and candy with lots of empty calories. But it's easy to rethink how you party in the classroom or at day care when you're equipped with fun alternatives that kids love. We've got 15 fun and healthy school celebration ideas to help!
Why healthier classroom celebrations?
Why does your school or child care center need a healthy school celebrations policy that extends to birthdays, holidays, and special events? "A birthday is just once a year," we might think—but if you have 25 or more student birthdays, and add in Halloween, winter break, Valentine's Day, the 100th day of school, the last day of school...you can easily accumulate 7 full weeks of sugary treats!
Like adults, kids need to stay active throughout the day. Active kids feel less stressed, sleep better at night, gain more focus, are more ready to learn, and develop healthy bones, muscles, and joints.
One way to make sure that children in your care are getting enough movement throughout the day is to incorporate movement into learning. Below is a list of suggested resources. Check them out and get moving!
Eating family style meals and snacks is recognized as a best practice in child care settings of all types—large, small, in-home, preschool, daycare, etc. Family style is all about children and supervising adults sharing a meal together, with children encouraged to serve food themselves.
Caregivers place enough food on the table to allow each child and adult to take the full regulatory portion of food required by the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) or State Licensing Rules. Children are allowed to choose how much of each food they serve themselves, or if they will take any of the food at all.
Family style meals help children try new foods by allowing them to feel in control of their eating. Supervising adults can encourage healthy eating habits by role modeling them.
Excessive screen time is associated with increased risk for overweight and obesity, lower reading scores, and attention problems in school. But what constitutes "screen time" and what is excessive?
What is "screen time"?
Screen time includes time spent watching TV, playing video games, using a computer, and using mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. "Recreational screen time" refers to use for non-educational purposes.
Consider this: as new technologies and devices have become popular, they haven't replaced the old ones. For example, tablets and smart phones have not replaced television and video games—instead, they have actually added to the amount of time kids spend engaged with screens.
Many young children are picky eaters who prefer to eat simple, familiar foods—perhaps at home and in child care. They may refuse foods based on color or texture, or play at the table and not want to eat.
While picky eating is common in ages 2-5, this is also an important time that shapes lifelong eating habits. Try responding to picky eating behavior in a positive way to help children move through this temporary phase with healthy attitudes and a hunger for variety. These tips can help:
- Introduce only one new food at a time. Serve a well-loved food along with the new food.
- Put a small portion of the new food on children's plates so it doesn't feel overwhelming.
- Transition to new foods or ingredients slowly. Instead of going directly from whole milk to fat-free, serve 2% for a few weeks, then 1% before finally arriving at fat-free milk. Mix plain yogurt with fruit-sweetened varieties, then add fresh fruit, until kids become accustomed to a full serving of plain yogurt and fresh fruit.
Valentine's Day doesn't have to be all about candy and sweets. If you're planning to celebrate Valentine's Day in your home, classroom, or child care, take advantage of the opportunity to promote a healthy lifestyle. Here are some ideas:
Healthy Snacks and Treats to Love
Fruit & Vegetable Bouquet
Use heart and flower-shaped cookie cutters to cut fresh fruits and vegetables such as melon and bell peppers. Place them on green skewers and arrange them into a bouquet. Tie together with red or pink ribbon. Students may enjoy with low-fat yogurt, hummus, salsa, or low-fat ranch dressing.
Create healthy sandwiches using whole grain bread and strawberry fruit spread. Use heart-shaped cookie cutters to cut out mini heart sandwiches.
Valentine's Day Taste Test
Host a taste test at your party using red fruits and vegetables. Pomegranate, cranberries, apples, blood oranges, raspberries, red peppers and cherry tomatoes are great options. Have students vote on their favorite red fruit and vegetable.
2016 Year in Review - part one in a series of four
The new year brings the opportunity to pause and reflect on 2016 and our progress in reducing the prevalence of childhood obesity. In this series of four Year in Review stories, we summarize some of our most significant accomplishments to date.
Jump IN’s mission is to promote policies and practices that create healthy environments where families and children have real opportunities to make healthy choices and engage in healthy behaviors.Much of Jump IN’s work is grounded in this fact:
Changing the environment is the best way to change behaviors.
Research shows that if healthy nutrition and physical activity policies can be implemented in the places where children and families spend most of their time, their health will likely improve. Here’s how we helped schools, child care centers, worksites, and family homes embed healthy nutrition and physical activity policies and practices in 2016:
If you are looking for easy, healthy snack ideas that will appeal to kids and adults alike, you've come to the right place. Here are 30 no-prep and low-prep snack ideas to inspire you.
No Prep Snacks
- Whole fruit: grapes, apples, bananas, etc.
- Fruit salad: unsweetened canned fruit, snack cup, or do-it-yourself by mixing 1/2 cup of bite-sized fresh fruit (pineapple, melon, and berries, for example)
- Frozen fruit: 1/2 cup of berries, melon, etc.
- Dried fruit: 1/3 cup of raisins, dried apricots, etc.
- Applesauce: 1 snack cup (unsweetened)
- Nuts: 1/3 cup of almonds, peanuts, cashews, or mixed nuts
- Cheese: low fat string cheese, or 2 slices low fat cheese (such as Cabot Creamery)
- Yogurt: 1 sqeezeable low fat yogurt (such as Stonyfield Farm, Chobani), or 1 low fat yogurt container (6 oz)
We know that playing outdoors enables children to easily engage in both moderate and vigorous physical activity such as running, skipping, jumping, climbing, chasing, lifting, balancing—even digging, splashing, and building. Playgrounds and outdoor play equipment are substantial investments, and we design and build them with the expectation that they will sustain us for many years. But that doesn’t mean we should stop thinking about them once they are erected.
Whether you’re in position to begin planning for a new playground, tackle a substantial renovation to existing play space, or make just minimal additions or changes, the following best-practice design ideas are worth thinking about.