Our children are our most precious natural resource. Properly raising and motivating them requires an investment from both parents and the education community as well. For children in public and private schools, it is imperative that they are in a healthy environment every day for them to grow and thrive. If the environment they go to school in is not healthy, children are unable to reach their fullest potential, which is detrimental not only to them but to all of us.
So, what makes for a healthy school environment for our kids?
There are several components that work together to ensure each child receives the best education possible.
Three main areas have a large impact on children and where educators need to focus their efforts.
A school needs to be:
1. Nutritionally Healthy
A healthy diet is essential to a child being able to perform well at school. When the body lacks proper nutrition, it has a noticeable impact on brain function. Being hungry can cause problems with growth and development, memory, behavior and overall ability to learn well in a classroom setting. When a child goes to school hungry or has a poor breakfast or lunch, the effects are felt far beyond mealtime. Thankfully, there are assistance programs to help ensure that all children receive adequate nutrition to give them the chance to be their best at school.
2. Physically Healthy
Working hand in hand with nutrition, physical health, and fitness is also paramount for children. This includes the child feeling safe from physical harm in their school environment and also getting the adequate amount of exercise each day. Even though younger children tend to be active enough on their own to meet their physical activity requirements, it is still important for them to be involved in a regular program of exercise at school. Exercise becomes even more critical as the child grows and may tend to be less active on his or her own. Keeping kids physically fit contributes to their overall health, thus helping them to perform better in school and possibly miss fewer days of school due to illness.
3. Emotionally Healthy
When a child’s diet and exercise needs are met, it is a tremendous boost to their ability to learn and thrive at school. Also important is the emotional environment in the classroom. When a child is encouraged to learn and challenged to do their very best, a positive view of education is instilled in them. They will feel free to try and possibly fail, knowing it’s all a part of learning. If there is no positive reinforcement or the child feels ignored or unimportant, they will stop trying. This does not mean that every child should get a trophy just for showing up, but a little positive reinforcement and support can go a long way in not only how the child performs at school, but in life as well.
We Are All Responsible
It is up to us, as parents and educators, to make sure that each child can be educated in a safe, caring, healthy environment. This is our responsibility to them; they are unable to do it for themselves. If we are to see the next generation grow to be healthy and productive, we must ensure that we give them all that they need today. Doing so is an investment not only in children but an investment in our future – an investment in all of us.