Parents can’t know what we don’t tell them, so be sure to introduce your wellness vision at the beginning of the school year and take steps to reinforce it all year long. Here are four strategies to increase parent engagement and the tools you need to implement them:
Introduce your wellness plan
Create a welcome letter that introduces parents to the rationale for making wellness a priority in your school/classroom, shares your goals, and sets expectations for what they may see from you throughout the year.
You might include:
- Facts that demonstrate the links between health and academic achievement
- Examples of healthy ways you’ll celebrate student birthdays or other special occasions and accomplishments
- A list of snack ideas that are welcome during special events
Get facts you can use and more examples in our guide, Healthy Students Achieve More.
Demonstrate your wellness initiatives during your back-to-school open house. Seize the opportunity to show parents and other guests some of the simple steps you’re taking to encourage students to make healthy choices.
- Set up an infused water bar with a pitcher of water, cut fruit, and herbs. You can post infused water recipes and invite families to collaborate to create fun and tasty beverages.
- Offer a healthy snack such as a vegetable tray with dip, or a fruit and cheese tray. Skip the cookies and desserts.
- Include physical activity. Have students lead their families on a scavenger hunt to each of the rooms they visit throughout the school day, or energize tired parents with a short brain break like the ones from Fuel Up to Play 60.
Showing parents that healthy nutrition and physical activity are a priority in your classroom is a powerful message that may inspire new habits at home, too. At the very least, they’ll have a clear understanding of what you mean when you talk about “healthy beverages and snacks” and “brain breaks.” They’ll also see that healthy choices are fun and desirable.
Include wellness tips in newsletters and social media posts throughout the school year. Keep these messages short and simple. You can select messages that reinforce 5-2-1-0 daily wellness goals.
Invite parents to volunteer on your school wellness committee. A good school wellness committee includes a wide range of voices and experiences, so this invitation isn’t reserved for parents with specific professions or expertise.
Any parent with a passion for healthy nutrition or physical activity, those with a desire to create healthier places for children to learn and play, or those intrigued by what they see you doing to promote wellness in your classroom are qualified. Be sure they know their input is welcome, and that they know how to get involved.
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