Parent Tips

The link between food and your kid’s schooling

At Frenchtown Elementary we pride ourselves in working with you the parents or carers of our brilliant children. One of the ways we aim to offer you the very best advice is in the area of nutrition and eating healthily. Frenchtown Elementary truly believes that with great diet comes a great mind and there is much evidence to back this up. Studies into kid’s diets and their ability to think clearly and for longer is mounting.

We take our responsibility for providing brilliantly healthy and nutritional lunches though our partner Trumbulls Food Services very seriously. There has been much bad publicity recently about the standards of food in schools so an extra special effort has been made over recent months to ensure that what our lunch menus offer is up to scratch. Sodium and saturated fat levels have been further cut back and there is now even more fruit, vegetables and wholegrains available. There is so much research showing that a good diet really does help your kid to learn more that it should be a top priority for us all.

Long term poor diets lead to health issues

The sad truth is that many kids do become overweight through their younger years and this can lead to a wealth of health problems for them. Over a third of children are now though to be overweight and this can lead to type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, higher blood pressure as well as musculoskeletal problems and even liver disease. Being overweight is due to two main factors, one is not eating the right foods or eating too much, the other is not exercising or moving around enough. If you are facing this situation with your kid there is lots of help out there to get you all back on track. Look at Government web sites on diet and exercise to give you some ideas on how to approach it and talk to us too – Frenchtown is committed to helping kids with all aspects of their schooling and development. Making sure that you also have comprehensive and up-to-date cover will mean that should you need any help from your health insurance in the future it is one less thing to worry about.

Breakfast is king

Out of all the meals of the day many think that breakfast is the king. Get your kids fed properly in the morning and just see the difference in their behaviour and learning. Recent surveys have spelt out the positive effects that a good breakfast can have. Just take a look at these fascinating facts:

  • Kids who eat breakfast are likely to attend school for 1.5 more days a year on average
  • Their maths score tend to be 17.5% higher
  • They are 20% more likely to then move on to high school
  • Kids who get through high school on average earn over $10,000 more per year than their non graduating friends.

So breakfast can really affect far more than just your kids school day.

With the USDA committed to helping out schools – if money is a little tighter than find out if you could be one of the families that can take advantage of a school provided breakfast. According to recent reports only half of those who qualify are registering for them. If that’s you and your family then sign up today and give your kid the best start to their day.

Some quick, easy and healthy breakfast ideas

Ideally breakfast does need to keep them full ’til lunch so look for some protein, wholegrain and fruit and veg. Unfortunately many of the quick and easy cereals available are actually packed full of sugars and don’t make for the best of starts. Oatmeal is a great breakfast staple with honey and raisins. A low fat peanut butter on a wholegrain toasted muffin. Toasted muffins and eggs or fresh fruit are all good options. Watch out for high sugar or hidden sodium levels that get snuck into many of the everyday breakfast foods we all look to for their ease and convenience.

Don’t forget those drinks too

So many of the drinks on offer today are super packed full of sugars so be careful – being properly hydrated is also key for your kid to develop and maintain a healthy body and brain. Water is of course best so try to encourage your children to enjoy it. Otherwise look to milk or else small amounts of low sugar drinks and fresh juices.

How managing how kids behave can help all kids learn

Teaching at elementary level is a brilliantly fun challenge. This is the age when many children like to start to test the boundaries and challenge their adults in both a school and home environment – a bit of back chat or simply not doing as they are asked. Along with this though comes a great sense of adventure and a want to explore and find out as much as they can about the world around them and how it all works. For teachers kids at this age are fantastic to teach but the classroom needs to be controlled well to ensure that everyone is behaving in a suitable manner for the schooling environment. By implementing the PBIS Frenchtown Elementary actively manage strong, responsible behavior patterns looking to encourage and reward them in a positive way – kids that do as is expected will be rewarded those that don’t will be encouraged to change how they act. How do we cope when children’s behavior falls short of the mark? Well in a number of ways we will address these issues – many are simply a kid learning to challenge or test their independence.

More serious issues

For a few of the kids this behavior could be because something more serious is going on with them – Government statistics show there is a growing number of younger children who are having problems with a variety of  medical conditions. The main disorders to affect kids at this age are that of ADHD followed by mood disorders or major depressive disorders. Whilst there are only a small percentage of kids that are affected, any parent facing any of these issues would want to know what is going on with their kid and how they can best help their child if there is a more serious mental health issue. At this age especially it can be difficult for a parent to know if your kid’s disruptive behavior is due to them not understanding the rules, because they are bored or as a way to gain attention from their classmates or teacher. Or could it be that they have another underlying health issue such as ADHD, OCD or another anxiety disorder. Our advice to any parent who is worried about how their kid is acting either here at school or at home is, of course, to liaise closely with us and between us a decision can be made as to whether we need to involve a medical professional for further diagnosis or if it is simply a poor behavior that between us we can sort out.

Managing behavior issues

Whilst these more serious behavior issues must be dealt with in a sensitive and inclusive environment for most parents their kids’ misbehavior is just a part of them growing up and acting out. As a school we are committed to ensuring that the classrooms are as kid-friendly as possible. By ensuring that children who perhaps don’t get on so well or who encourage each other to behave poorly are seated separately, by making sure that any equipment they will need is within easy reach, by closing the classroom door to minimize outside noise and disruption we can create the right environment for the children to learn in. To gain cooperation at this level the teacher will develop a way of working with the kids where they all know what the expectations are. Meeting those expectations and rewarding them not only builds a strong sense of self for the kids but also reinforces behavior patterns meaning they will continue to behave well. Getting groups of children to work together in class is a great way to disperse behavior problems as kids at this age particularly enjoy working together.

At this age including some physical movement through the day is also key. Boys especially need to move about to aid their learning ability and many studies have shown the link between physical activities and brain stimulation.

Benefits to all of building an inclusive schooling environment

So whether a kid has more serious condition or is simply acting out there is a strong argument for all being educated together not only for the good of that one child but also for the development of the whole class. For a kid who is showing a behavior issue, or an anxiety or mental health disorder, becoming part of a class may bring lots of benefits. These include helping them to achieve better grades, have a wider group of friendships and increase their access to a bigger range of social situations as well as increasing school and parent involvement. This will lead to them, hopefully, keeping a more open mind and being able to connect to a wider social setting in the future. For other kids in the class or school it can increase their understanding of the diversity of society as a whole – that people come from all sorts of social, cultural backgrounds and with different abilities – along with teaching them to appreciate and accept those that are different to themselves. It may offer them the chance to help others which will also help their own learning experiences and gives them the opportunity to develop further friendships.

In all the many studies that have been carried out there appears to be little argument against creating an inviting, inclusive school environment that is open to all kids. Obviously each and every case of behavior issues should be dealt on an individual basis to discover what the reasons could be and what the most appropriate course of action is. By working together parents and teachers at Freetown Elementary will create a program that is individual and appropriate for every child.

Looking for more info on the USDA MyPlate program. Click Here