Research shows that health and education are connected. Children, whose physical, mental, social and emotional health is supported both at school and at home, are more likely to achieve their fullest potential.
As parents, you have a key role in supporting your children to form lifestyle habits that will build the foundation for them to live healthy, fulfilling and productive lives. In this section, you will find tips to help your child feel more connected, eat healthy and be physically active.
A Sense of Belonging or Feeling Connected to School
- Help your children with homework, and try to make sure they have the tools—school supplies, a quiet place — they need to do their homework.
- Encourage your children to help out at home, at school and in the community, such as helping with chores, running errands, volunteering or tutoring younger students after school.
- Encourage your children to participate in school activities, such as organized sports, clubs or special events.
- Encourage your school to support healthy eating by registering with the BC School Fruit and Vegetable Nutritional Program, or help your school set up a school food garden, farm to school program or salad bar.
- Meet regularly with your children's teachers to discuss their grades, behaviour and accomplishments.
- Offer to share unique aspects of your culture with your child's class.
- Get involved with your children's school; volunteer, go on school field trips, participate in school and community events.
- Encourage your child's school to adopt an anti-bullying policy, if they don't have one in place.
Enhancing student connectedness to school can promote positive mental health and well-being as well as improve educational outcomes among youth.
Students feel connected to school when they:
- Feel they are part of the school;
- Are happy and like school;
- Feel safe at school;
- Participate in school activities;
- Feel that teachers are fair and care about them; and
- Get along with other students (MacKay, 2009)
- Start the day with breakfast. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day for everyone and will help your kids focus and learn better at school.
- Packing healthy, interesting lunches that your kids will eat can be challenging. Kids are more likely to eat their lunch if they are involved in making it. Let them choose between a few healthy items or ask them to help plan a lunch menu for the week using the four food groups from Canada's Food Guide. If mornings are rushed then make lunches the night before. Visit the healthy eating section for healthy lunch ideas.
- Help your children limit sugar by offering water most often, limiting drinks high in sugar such as pop and fruit drinks and offering only small portions (1/2 cup) of 100 per cent fruit juice with snacks or meals.
- Keep healthy snack foods on hand to make healthy snacking easy for your kids and family. For example, cut-up vegetables, whole fruit, cheese or cheese sticks, whole grain crackers (that are low in salt), hummus, whole grain pita or chapatti. For other lower sodium snack ideas, click here.
- Cook together and eat together with your child. This will help develop food skills and provide fun opportunities for you to spend time with each other.
- Encourage your school to support healthy eating by registering with the BC School Fruit and Vegetable Nutritional Program, or help your school set up a school food garden, salad bar or farm to school program.
- Take advantage of DASH BC's Healthy Fundraising for Schools guide, to support healthy fundraising activities that meet the Guidelines for Food and Beverage Sales in B.C. Schools.
Kids who eat well have improved brain development and mental abilities, increased self-esteem, reduced anxiety and less depression and hyperactivity.
Develop good hand-washing habits, as frequent hand washing reduces the spread of cold and flu viruses.
If you smoke, try to quit. Your teen is more likely to become a smoker if you smoke. Also, research shows that second hand smoke is dangerous to nonsmokers because it increases their risk of lung cancer. For resources to help you quit smoking, visit www.quitnow.ca.
If your child smokes, ask if your school has copies of Youth Smart Steps from QuitNow Services.
- Role model healthy exercise habits for your child and get the whole family active by walking the dog, family walks or bike rides.
- Limit your children's screen time to two hours per day or less. Explain to them that it's important to sit less and move more to maintain good health.
- Encourage your children to take part in after school sports, active recreation programs at your local community centre and walking or hiking groups.
- Play together with your child. This will provide great opportunities for both of you to get active.
- Visit the Physical Activity section for more tips on fitting physical activity into your family's life.
- Whenever possible, encourage your children to walk, ride, rollerblade or skateboard to school instead of driving them. You can even keep a record of the emissions you save at http://www.hastebc.org/tools/mytravel-emissions-calculator-and-tracking.
- Encourage your school to support physical activity by registering with Action Schools! BC or coordinate with other parents to set up a "walking school bus" or bicycle train program.
DID YOU KNOW?
Kids who exercise regularly are more disciplined, do better in school and have better self-esteem.
Join, or help set up, a healthy school committee to help plan and implement healthy living programs at your child's school.