Tips for Teaching Students Healthy Habits

Tips for Teaching Students Healthy Habits
Tips for Teaching Students Healthy Habits

School Health and Wellness//

May 20, 2022

Summer is nearly here and the school year is almost over. This means everyone is in for a new routine. With new routines can come unhealthy habits.

Children of all ages look to those in authority as role models. As teachers and school leaders, you have the opportunity to share and demonstrate healthy behaviors. Making healthy choices has a positive influence on not just your students, but yourself as well.

Now is the time to remind students of healthy habits so they can practice them as they head into the summer and beyond.

1. Healthy and Balanced Eating

Teach students about healthy eating habits so they can make good choices. Introduce these practices to your students.

  • Explain food labels and how to read them—discuss how food labels help with making informed food choices.
  • Encourage water breaks throughout the day—share ways to encourage water consumption, like using a refillable water bottle.
  • Provide parents with resources on healthy food options and encourage at-home initiatives.
  • Talk about healthier fast-food and convenience food options—including vending machine selections.
  • Share ideas with parents about nonfood rewards (like school supplies, activities, or opportunities for physical activity) to recognize good behavior or achievements.

2. Physical Activity

Leading an active lifestyle is important to building habits. Daily physical activity is recommended for all ages to maintain health, support sleep, and prevent disease. Here are ways you can encourage your students to stay active.

  • Tell your students to get outside. Provide ideas for backup indoor activities when outdoor space is unavailable or prohibited by weather. Teach parents and students ways to discover nearby playground facilities and other outdoor play equipment that includes and accommodates everyone.
  • Participate with your students in physical education class activities and recess time.
  • Take your class on nature walks when the weather permits.
  • Share your favorite activities with your students; invite them to talk about their interests. Share your physical activity interests with your students.
  • Give activity breaks during the day for movement or stretching.
  • Do not use physical activity as punishment—this creates a negative association with exercise. Barring students from opportunities for physical activity can also negatively affect their attention span, behavior, and academic performance.

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3. Good Hygiene

As the pandemic reminded us, personal hygiene habits are imperative to prevent the spread of germs and to maintain overall health. Discuss these aspects of cleanliness with your students.

  • Remind them to cover their mouths when coughing or sneezing, and to wash their hands afterward.
  • Practice handwashing songs as a class to encourage participation and thorough cleaning.
  • Talk about healthy hygiene home routines, such as brushing their teeth, bathing, and laundry.

4. Mental Health Support

Even before the pandemic, according to research, 70% of teens said anxiety and depression are major problems. While there is much variability between individuals, teachers and school counselors are noticing students are showing symptoms of mental health conditions—but children don't know how to talk about them, cope, or find help. Implement these initiatives to start conversations and support your students.

  • Ensure your students have access to mental health care, whether the school nurse, counselor, or a school social worker. Consider expanding your school’s staff and resources.
  • Inform your students about where they can receive mental health support. Promote programs and resources that they can find in their communities.
  • Educate all faculty members, students, and parents about warning signs and symptoms of mental health problems.
  • Integrate positive psychology principles into your classroom.
  • Encourage helping and caring for others in the classroom as well as outside school.
  • Cultivate a positive, safe, and supportive classroom environment.
  • Continue to oppose the mental health stigma by providing help and treatment opportunities.

As teachers and school leaders, you can make changes in your curriculum and school culture that have an immediate and lasting effect on your students’ ability to develop resilience and health in all areas of their lives.

Additional Resources

Lysol’s Welcome Backpack—a library of downloadable fun activities, informative posters, and engaging lesson plans designed for all grade levels that encourage healthy habits.

EVERFI’s Healthier Me—games-based elementary school health curriculum that teaches elementary school students about the importance of well-balanced meals and physical activity.

EVERFI’s Character Playbook—an innovative digital character education program designed for middle school students that teaches concepts around positive character development, social-emotional learning (SEL), and healthy relationships.

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