How to Improve Students’ Health – Tips for Teachers

children at school
Children at school - Photo by: Lucélia Ribeiro - Source: Flickr Creative Commons

Children are rarely fully aware of the value of their health, so it isn’t effective to simply say that “you have to take care of your health from the early years”. Instead, you can use your own example to teach your children useful habits that will help them stay healthy, and give them information about how the body works and what makes it malfunction. Later on, the benefits of this knowledge will be appreciated by children when they grow up.

Here are some topics to rise if you are a teacher talking to kids/students about their health.

Daily routine

Building healthy habits for children begins with a healthy and well-thought-out daily routine. A child’s daily routine should be a thoughtful and flexible plan, adapted to the needs and abilities of your child. In this case, it is necessary to find time for games, sleep, and communication with family and friends, and it is better to mix the periods of lessons with rest – so the learning process is more effective.

Make sure that the child is not overloaded. Sometimes the school load can be excessive and reach 10-12 hours for elementary school students and up to 15-16 hours in high school. As a teacher, make sure there are enough breaks and kids or students have enough time to recharge and get ready for more knowledge.

Nutrients

The body needs to get enough nutrients to grow. Though, moderate amounts of food are advised. Too many calories and too much junk food can lead to obesity, which in turn leads to numerous side effects like diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

A good and non-intrusive option is intuitive eating, where children eat what they want, but chooses from healthy foods. The parents have to plan the menu, buy food and cook it. The children have to choose what they want to eat from the food that is available.

This conscious approach to nutrition should be a habit, a way of life, and not a temporary solution to a problem.

Hygiene

The 21st century has shown that hygiene saves lives. Informing kids on the basics of personal hygiene and making sure kids are fully aware of negative consequences if the hygiene is neglected.

Remind them to wash their hands, using regular soap and warm water for at least 30 seconds. The same procedure should be done after using the restroom and before eating.

Touching face, eyes, and nose. Bacteria and viruses from dirty hands can infect these areas causing illness. Kids must be aware of that.

Explain to kids that they don’t need to share their food or water, or use the same dishes. It is essential that kids learn how to share, but when it comes to health, everybody should be responsible and use their own dishes, bottles, and food.

Kids and parents must stay home if they are sick. If you are studying online, and kids are unwell, they don’t need to participate in online lessons. All their effort must be directed to getting better. Teachers need to explain the value of one’s health and its influence on collective wellbeing and health as well.

Activity

Teachers know how hard it is to keep kids concentrated for a long time and how much energy they have inside that is longing for an active outlet. So, it is always a good idea to get some fresh air outside of the classroom.

Do not force children to exercise, play sports, or otherwise be physically active. Introducing exercises in the form of a play is the best way to keep kids engaged and healthy. Show them that sports are fun, and they will follow your example. Is it snowing outside? Make a snowman! In the fall, play with leaves. Kids will always enjoy playing hide-and-seek or catch-up.

High School or College Students Health

When it comes to older students, as a teacher you can also help them maintain their health. They are well aware of the basics like food and hygiene but still might miss on some essential steps.

Usually, they need to be reminded about proper sleep. During the midterms, you can provide them with a little reminder that they need at least 7 to 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep in order to remember the material and function fully. According to Greg Loom, a research specialist at Pro papers, if we sleep less than 7 hours, our immunity’s ability to produce T-cells decreases, we crave more food and especially sugar. None of that is beneficial for students’ health.

The popularization of coffee culture has led to a drastic increase in caffeine consumption among students. Coffee is a lifestyle. However, it is good in moderation. Students often use it as a method to stay awake, concentrate and manage to do more things. The stimulating effect after a cup of coffee is not long-lasting and is followed by a period of sleepiness and a decrease of concentration, so students drink more and more. As a result, lots of them rarely drink water, and most of the liquid they consume is caffeinated.

Teachers can also remind students about healthy food, providing more detailed information on why sugar negatively affects our health, as well as processed food, unhealthy fat, simple or ‘fast’ carbohydrates, and glycemic index. It is never redundant to say that our body is our health and it is actually everything that we have, directly determining our lifetime.

Students’ mental health is an extremely important topic. Make sure that they are aware of therapy if they feel depressed, alone, overwhelmed, or lost. Teachers should be open to conversations about mental health and attentive to students in the class. If someone seems depressed or behaves strangely, teachers should notice that and offer assistance, a place where to get help, or at least a sincere human talk (which is often enough.)

Technological hygiene: teachers can remind students to spend some time away from their smartphones or the Internet, especially when they are preparing for sleep. Avoiding data noise will help them feel less overwhelmed and anxious.