Grandparents Teach, too

Help children to be healthy, happy

Sabin, Davis, Hetrick, Anderegg, Macalady, Walker, Darling, and Katers

Children have settled into a new school year. They are growing and building confidence and skills. During these critical learning years, adults want to be sure they are doing everything they can to help their little ones become healthy happy learners.

A national study indicates that there are behaviors which help young children remain healthy.

Nutrition routine

Eat nutritious meals six or seven times per week with the family at a table. Good nutrition gives children the very best chance for a healthy body and a mind ready for learning.

A study at the University College of London has a warning. It reported that young children cared for by grandparents a significant part of the week were much more likely to be overweight than their peers. They are served more fatty and sugary foods and sometimes a diet of fast food and takeout meals. Check the government recommendations at choosemyplace.gov. for guidelines about amounts and types of nutritious meals and snacks. The site suggests attractive snack fruits and vegetables and water for drinks rather than colas and sugary juices.

Monitoring technology

The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that children under 2 years of age should experience no screen time. Read to them. Other child health organizations advise that 1-2 hours per day should be the maximum limit for screens of any kind. Unfortunately, many children watch in excess of 4 hours a day. Too much screen time has been linked to obesity, irregular sleep and behavior problems. Some experts have found that violence in movies and games can lead to an acceptance of this kind of behavior in real life and spills into school and family behavior. Excessive watching means less time for exercise and imaginative play.

Here are some suggestions from child psychologists: Set a good example. Eliminate background TV noise. Turn off the TV at mealtime. Talk and eat at the table. Plan which shows and how much time children may watch. Keep technology out of the bedroom. Especially for preschoolers, parents might want to watch shows together and talk about the content. Does it meet family standards?

Best homework is done with the media off. In general, work can be finished before media time. Computers are part of life, and can be a source of discovery and learning or a source of danger. Children using a computer need to be supervised and the computer placed in a public space. Find out ways to block sites and information that you feel are inappropriate for your student. Ask yourself what is computer time replacing? Family time? Outdoor exercise? Doing a good job with homework? Reading? Helping around the house? Extracurricular activities?

For more ideas see grandparentsteachtoo.blogspot.com;wnmufm.org/Learning Through the Seasons live and podcasts; Pinterest and Facebook.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Grandparents Teach, Too is a non-profit organization of elementary and preschool teachers from Marquette, Michigan. The writers include: Jan Sabin, Mary Davis, Jean Hetrick, Cheryl Anderegg, Esther Macalady, Colleen Walker, Fran Darling, and Iris Katers. Their mission since 2009 is to help parents, grandparents, and other caregivers of young children provide fun activities to help prepare young children for school and a life long love of learning. They are supported by Great Start, Parent Awareness of Michigan, the U.P. Association for the Education of Young Children, Northern Michigan School of Education, the Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum and the Northern Michigan University Center for Economic Education.