Tag Archives: children

Schools, Kids and Nutrition

I find it very disturbing that, despite all of our concerns about American obesity and all of the physical health issues that go with it, we still have schools and parents that do not take responsibility for the nutrition of children, which is where our first education about nutrition begins!

Let me break it down for you, parents. You are your child’s first model of how to eat correctly and how to eat well. If you are inconvenienced by cooking, it does not excuse reliance on fast foods or artificial, processed products for the primary meals of your child. If you treat your body poorly, your child will do the same. Think of it this way. You work hard for your money, but consciously eating well is not just helping you; it is also helping your child. There are some easy changes you can make in your diet that would not take nearly as long as you think.

Tips:

–Start buying and using whole wheat or multigrain pasta instead of the regular kind. There is not much cost difference, and it doesn’t really taste much different. Just be sure to make sure it is thoroughly cooked and that there is sufficient olive oil in your pot to avoid sticking.

–Make the switch from processed white bread to whole wheat or multigrain bread. (It’s SO much different!)

–Slowly take your whole milk down to 2% milk, then to 1% milk and finally to skim milk so that your child adapts to the new taste.

–Buy natural peanut butter that contains Omega 3’s and flax/linseed oil. The No-sugar or reduced sugar Smuckers jellies can also help you make those peanut butter and jelly sandwiches healthy!

–Try pureed carrots to add to your spaghetti sauces or even spinach, if your kid doesn’t object to the color green.

–Limit the meat intake on¬†a given plate, but allow for seconds on the vegetables and whole-wheat bread.

–Offer fruit as dessert. Canned fruits in heavy syrup do little for your child. If you must buy canned, look for the ones canned in plain water.

–Find fat-free salad dressings to use in all kinds of yummy flavors. Experiment with different salad ingredients such as putting grapes, oranges, grapefruit or spinach leaves in the salad. Make it look pretty and inviting.

–Kids tend to like finger foods, so take the time to pull the grapes off of the stems for your kids or put together a little baggie of baby carrots or cucumber slices with some dressing.

–Some yogurts contain less sugar than others. Look for “natural” or “organic” yogurts that can aid your child in digestion and immunity. Gelatin is also good for the skin and is cheap to buy in little cups.

–Fat-free puddings are a good way for your child to get a chocolate fix without ice cream or candy bars.

–Don’t send your kid to school with money every day unless you are guaranteed that they will not be spending it on chips, chocolate and sodas from the vending machine. Look at the school’s lunch menu, and do not assume that the school is looking out for your child’s best nutritional interest. (You want to know how much salt and fat is in the “turkey chunks and gravy potatoes” dish? What about the mac and cheese or the chicken fingers?)

I hope that some of these tips help you out as parents. I also hope that some of you will also make some of these dietary changes. Parents, we need to stop abusing our bodies so that we can give more and be more for our kids. Waiting for an illness or a dysfunction in immunity to take place before making lifestyle changes is not good enough! Love your child by loving yourself!

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Graduation for the Christian Teacher?

One by one, I watched my seniors stand up in front of their fellow students and family members during our Monday chapel session. It was a special chapel created just for them, featuring songs sung by seniors who have participated in worship band. I watched one of my students sing in front of us all, and then it finally hit me: This will be one of the last times I will see this girl sing in the worship band. It will be the last time that I will hear this boy’s voice before he moves on to the next stage in life.

I often wonder how it feels as a parent to watch your child grow up. Considering the bittersweet heartache I experience each year as I watch my own “children” set off for their own life experiences in college, I imagine that the pain and joy involved is a complicated mixture of emotions.

I cry every year at graduation.

This year, I will watch some of my students who have been with me since 8th grade and followed me through my entire teaching career. I know them both academically and personally, and see them not just as students, but as my own children. In fact, I have even had some students call me “mom” on purpose because I have taken up the role as a second mom in their lives. I will miss them very much. And yet it is time to let them go and learn how to fly on their own.

As a Christian teacher, the graduation process is never without the wondering. Did I really contribute to this student’s life? Did I do everything I could? Will this student remember my name as the years pass by and remember some of the lessons I taught them? I make a deal with my students whenever they withdraw or graduate: at least once in the next year they have to email me and let me know how they are doing. You cannot imagine how much happiness it brings to my heart to see an email telling me, “Miss Drake, I am getting fantastic grades in my English classes here at college! You were right–they do make you read and write a lot!” Heaven knows whether I will see some of them again. But I hope that they are continuing to seek God for their lives and learning what it means to define their own identities in this changing world.

Watching our students graduate is a difficult process emotionally. But perhaps we should also use these moments to think about our own graduation as teachers. Each year I ask myself, “What is one thing that I should change next year in order to be a better teacher to my students?” As a first year teacher, the list was very long, and I had to limit myself to changing one piece at a time. But the list continues even as the years of experience accumulate. We may have 20 years of teaching experience, master’s degrees and even doctoral degrees, and yet we can still commit ourselves to positive change in our teaching. Being the best teacher possible is an evolving process that never ends. If we were to “graduate” today, we would probably see ourselves at a new beginning instead of at the end, just as our students are now viewing their futures. Next year, let’s commit ourselves to learning and growing. Let’s give our students the best that we can and keep their needs a priority in our own commitment to training and professionalism. Self-discipline is sometimes difficult to maintain, but modeling it will show our students how much we care for them, and demonstrate to them a commitment to our field.

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