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What can I do as a parent to help my children become healthy, active people?

A school can’t work alone to help children become healthy, active people. Kids can get confused when parents, teachers and other adults say and do different things. 

That’s why a healthy school community involves teachers, parents and the community, and sends children the same message in the home, school, and out in society. 

So, as a parent, you have a very important role to play. Parents can, and already do, make a huge difference in the health of a school community.

Healthy eating

Here are some ideas on how you can contribute to healthy eating at your child’s school.

Set a good example

  • pack healthy snacks and lunches for your children
  • send a full water bottle to school with your children
  • ask them what they are learning about nutrition in school
  • discuss which healthy foods they like
  • consider creating a parent-driven cookbook sharing favourite recipes.

Provide healthy food options

If you’re asked to send food to school for an event, provide healthy options, like a fruit or a vegie sticks platter.

Volunteer in your school canteen

Ask your school about their healthy eating policy

  • The Eat Well SA Healthy Eating Guidelines for Schools and Preschools were developed to provide a springboard for promoting a healthy school
  • Check out the Right Bite strategy.

Right Bite was developed to make sure that healthy food and drink choices are available and promoted in South Australian schools (including both primary and secondary) and preschools.

Catholic and independent schools might not follow the Right Bite strategy, but can still have a healthy canteen.

Jump into physical activity

Children need to get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day. And don’t forget; we adults need at least 30 minutes every day.

Try these ideas to help you, your kids and your school community get active:

Be active at home

  • don’t forget to make time for you to get your 30 minutes a day. This will send a powerful message to your kids that being active is an important part of the day
  • be active with your kids. You can ride bikes, go for walks or play sports together
  • park further away when dropping kids off at school or shopping, or better yet walk!

Talk to the teachers about how active your child is during the day

Being active and physical education is very important . It can provide the knowledge, skills and attitudes for students to be active long after their schooling is over.

Encourage the school parent council to support physical activity in the school

The school parent council may be able to raise funds or advocate for a school environment that supports students to be active – like playgrounds and ovals to encourage activity and equipment for students.

Be a good role model

As a parent, you know that your children watch what you say and do very carefully and your words and actions can be picked up quickly and easily. Even though this can be frustrating, keep in mind that children learn by watching and copying the behaviour of others. 

When you practice healthy behaviours in your own life, you are setting a good example for your children to become healthy, active adults. Don’t worry about being “perfect,” just aim to be consistent.

Healthy Eating – parents can model healthy eating for their kids by:

  • taking time for a balanced breakfast
  • packing a healthy lunch for work
  • drinking plenty of water at home and at work
  • avoiding fizzy drinks
  • providing “sit-down” meals as much as possible
  • engaging kids in grocery shopping and meal planning
  • demonstrating the proper role of “treat” foods such as soft drinks or ice-cream (to be eaten from time to time, but not as an “everyday” food).

Active Living – parents can model active living by:

  • using active transportation (walking, cycling, stairs) when possible
  • developing a personal physical activity routine by doing what you enjoy and introducing your kids to those activities
  • trying some of the activities your kids enjoy
  • making time for physical activity by scheduling it into your busy life.

So set a good example for your children and make healthy choices every day. There’s an added benefit, too… A healthier you!

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