Help Steer Kids Towards Adopting Healthy Habits

Healthy habits help kids mind their brains for a well-balanced life.

Healthy habits help kids mind their brains for a well-balanced life.

Hi and welcome back to Attentionology of K – 5 Teachers!

Dr. Seuss, beloved author in many parts of the world, wrote a telling poem in “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!”

The poem empowers children with these lines:

“Congratulations! Today is your day,

You’re off to great places; you’re off and away.

You have brains in your head,

You have feet in your shoes,

You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”

In school, teachers are in a great position to help steer kids in directions that will benefit their development, like adopting healthy habits.

Mind Your Brain! – What’s the connection between “minding brains” and helping kids adopt healthy habits? It’s a no-brainer! Brain function impacts children’s success in school.

Healthy kids have greater capacity to stay on task in class. Properly cared for brains don’t just have what it takes for one-day learning; they become storage factories of information and skills for the future.

Make a Brain Box – Help children grasp these concepts with a fun activity. Make a Brain Box.

Directions for Making a Brain Box:

  • Find a box with a lid
  • Find and cut out photos (available in newspapers and magazines) of the following:

* a child or children sleeping

* a container of cereal and one of milk

* Optional: pictures of other healthy foods

* people being active indoors and outdoors

  • Place the cut out photos inside the box and write Brain Box on the lid.
  • As a class activity, invite students to open the box and discover the contents. Discuss ways for students to care for their brains.
  • Optional: Ask students to draw and color pictures that show good sleeping, eating and exercising habits. Add these to the Brain Box.

Steer Students Towards Getting a Good Night’s Sleep – If you work with children in the early grades, try this…

Read Dr. Seuss’ poem, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” aloud to the class.

Announce that Dr. Seuss would be proud – you’re certain – of students who choose to steer towards adopting healthy habits.

Write the title, Dr. Seuss Steers Us In the Direction of Healthy Habits on a board in your room.

Below the title start a list of healthy habits like getting a good night’s sleep. Ask students to suggest additions to the list.

How else can you steer kids towards adopting healthy habits?

Good Foods For Good Thinking – Good nutrition is another documented brain builder.

News abounds, at least in the U.S., about the growing percentage of obese children. Well-balanced diets help prevent obesity.

Make an Apples Bulletin Board that features apples and other healthy foods - Good Foods for Good Thinking!

Make an Apples Bulletin Board that features apples and other healthy foods – Good Foods for Good Thinking!

Professionals recommend that K – 5 students eat a healthy breakfast with protein (milk counts) to provide a sustainable source of blood sugar that is essential to being alert.

Play a game called Please Pass the Apple! to help steer kids towards choosing foods that are “good to them and good for them.”

How to Play:

Ask children to form a circle in the room.

Give a large apple to one child to start the game. Ask that child to name a healthy food, then pass the apple to another student.

On goes the game until all students have held the apple and named a healthy food.

Optional: Make a Bulletin Board with a header, Please Pass the Apple and Other Good Foods for Good Thinking! 

Write the names of healthy foods on apple cut-outs. Post the apples under the header.

Get a Healthy Beat with the Feet in Your Shoes! – If “minding your brain” were a triangle, the third line, after sleep and nutrition would be exercise.

Lead into a lesson by asking everyone to sit up, look up, and listen up. Tell the class that it’s important to sit up because doing so allows oxygen to flow better to the brain. Better brains do better work.

Invite kids to get a healthy beat with the feet in their shoes by stomping three times before the lesson begins. Kids love this attention-getting trick.

Adopt a “Homework Habit” – Educators continue to search for ways to increase students’ commitment to homework.

According to KJ Dell’Antonia on the New York Times blog Motherlode, as reported in The News and Observer, the authors of “The Learning Habit” offer suggestions for helping children create “a homework habit.” Their tips are based on responses from more than 50,000 families that participated in the authors’ survey.

Consider creating a document online or for print copies to distribute to parents titled, “Six Steps to Help Your Child Adopt a “Homework Habit.”

Tips may include:

  • Schedule 10 minutes per day/per grade on weekdays devoted to homework. Set a timer, get set, go!
  • Make homework part of each school day routine. No exceptions except family emergencies.
  • Pick a time; pick a place. Same time/same place daily.
  • Remove distractions, including  mobile devices.
  • Stop when time’s up. The authors of “The Learning Habit” point out that a time limit helps a child train her/his mind to stay on task for a set period.
  • Aim for a balanced life. It’s just as important to be able to set work aside as it is to commit to getting work done, advise the authors of “The Learning Habit.”

Steer kids towards adopting healthy habits for a balanced life by encouraging them to take time each day for work, play, friends and family.

Tell them that Dr. Seuss wrote, “We’re off to great places…” and it’s important to pack healthy habits for the trip.

Talk with you again soon,

Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet


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Posted in Attentionology for K-5 Teachers
Barbara Cleary has been serving as a resource to hundreds of educators for more than 25 years. An award-winning writer, producer, teacher, and trainer, Barbara’s focus is on offering easy, fun tools and tricks that support K-5 curricula and assist teachers with classroom management.
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