Students who are active and eat well are better equipped to succeed in school because nutrition and exercise lead to improved academics, attendance and attention in class. Through the collaborative efforts of principals, teachers and parents, schools become healthier places for learning.
School gardens are an exciting way to teach subjects such as biology, math and social studies and create an environment that allows for creative thought and active learning. By bringing the classroom to the garden, students are reminded of the benefits of eating fresh foods. Plus, when kids spend energy and time growing their own vegetables, they are more likely to try them!
Walk and Bike to School Days are a fun way to get schools and communities involved in promoting physical activity and learning new ways to make the trip to school safer for students. In 1969, about half of all students walked or bicycled to school. Now, fewer than 15 percent of all school trips are made by walking or biking, one-quarter are made on a school bus, and over half of all children arrive at school in private automobiles. Walking and biking to school are fun ways to get physical activity before the school day begins!
Resources for Educators
Check out the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation for downloadable resources for teachers and school nurses that help keep kids healthy and ready to learn: http://www.healthyweightcommit.org/
The school setting offers many opportunities for students to enjoy physical activity during the school day. These opportunities include recess periods for unstructured play in elementary schools, after-school programs, intramural sports programs and physical activity clubs. Students who are active throughout the day have improved academic performance and better attendance and attention in class. Whether it’s yoga before school, stretching during morning announcements, or physical activity incorporated into math class, find ways to add movement into classroom lessons!
Start a Farm2School Program
Farm2School Programs teach essential lessons about where foods come from and their role in healthy eating. Virginia grown fruits and vegetables can have starring roles on school menus during Farm to School week and all year long. Many schools offer Virginia apples and broccoli in the fall, and lettuce and strawberries in the spring. Locally grown eggs, meats and herbs can be offered throughout the entire school year. Here are some fun ways to promote Virginia’s Farm to School Week!
Virginia’s Farm to School Week is held each November. Learn ways to add local foods to the school menu!
- Use tasting tables during Farm to School Week to invite students to try a new locally grown vegetable and then encourage them to choose that item for their lunch.
- Engage students and their families in recipe contests, kitchen tours and more by working with local chefs to develop healthy and appealing meals.
- Educate students on Farm to Table food preparation to increase appreciation for fresh foods.
Create a School Health Advisory Board
School Health Advisory Boards are great ways to become active in creating healthier school environments. Parents, teachers, administrators and other community members can all work together to put healthier options in vending machines, incorporate physical activity throughout the entire school day and bring in local experts to teach nutrition education in the classrooms. As part of the health advisory board, it is important to customize a plan based on the strengths and needs of the school and community, and to also include youths, families and other faculty members in decision making and planning.