How Healthy Is Your Child’s School?
There’s a lot of talk these days about the health and welfare of the next generation of Americans. From too many hours spent playing video games to sugary drinks to schools requiring doctor’s notes for common-sense items like cough drops and sunscreen, it seems the headlines are full of children’s health issues. And many of them have to do with the place most American children spend more time than any other–public school. Just how fit and healthy is your child’s public school?
- Policies and Procedures – Are the policies and procedures regarding in-school health and safety reasonable? Do you even know what they are? This coming school year, actually read all those forms that come home in the first few days to find out just what you, your child, and your school can and can’t do. One first grader was recently suspended for having a “weapon” in her lunchbox. The offender? A plastic knife sent along by her mother to spread peanut butter on apple slices. Two girls were recently sent home from their school’s field day with second-degree sun burns because the school required a doctor’s note for the use of sunscreen. Don’t place your child in danger by not knowing the rules. Also, challenge any rules that seem unreasonable or nonsensical. Challenging a policy that doesn’t make much sense may save controversy and confusion down the road.
- Role models – What sort of role models are being provided for your child in the way of health and safety? PE programs and healthy lunch menus don’t go very far if over half the teachers and staff–the adults your child has to look up to–are out of shape. Some schools now offer teacher wellness programs as well as promoting student health and fitness. If your school doesn’t, find out why not and what can be done to implement one. Start a parent-teacher fitness challenge, or a family-staff program, to get everyone involved. A coordinated school health and fitness commitment could have long-lasting, life-changing implications.
- PE and Health Curriculum – Make sure that what your school is teaching your child is current and correct, and appropriate for his or her age. The food pyramid was recently changed (did you know about that?) but last year’s text books won’t reflect that. New research is coming out all the time about fitness, nutrition, vaccines, you name it–and your school needs to stay on top of the game. Otherwise, your child will be learning outdated information. Also, beware of topics that may be too mature or too sensitive for your student. A recent uproar over the depth and breadth of a 5th grade “sex ed” session in a health class shows that sometimes schools do not take every child’s needs into consideration, and that some parents may be just a bit too trusting of their local schools.
Your children spend more time in school than they do at home (at least during their waking hours) while school is in session. You owe it to them, and to yourself, to be aware and informed of the health and fitness issues of that school. Don’t you agree?