Teachers who role model healthy behaviors in their classrooms can have an enormous impact on choices children make related to healthy eating and physical activity behaviors. Children are more likely to embrace and adopt habits if they see adults in their lives demonstrate these same healthy behaviors. Modeling healthy behaviors expands direct education to influence individuals’ behavior.
Here are a few examples to promote role modeling behaviors by teachers:
- Model healthy eating behaviors by consuming healthy foods and beverages.
- Make a point of eating healthy snacks with students.
- Show them what is in your healthy lunch.
- Drink water in front of the students to model healthy beverage choices.
- Participate in nutrition education classroom tasting activities.
- Plan and conduct taste tests of fruits and vegetables with students on a regular basis (first Friday of each month, etc.).
- Try new foods with the students.
- Share positive, out-of-the-classroom, healthy eating experiences with students.
- Discuss the benefits of healthy food choices with students during snack and meal times.
- Have a healthy party policy in your classroom.
- Don’t reward students with food.
- Eat lunch in the cafeteria with students.
- Schedule a lunch bunch in your classroom as an earned reward. Encourage students to bring healthy foods to eat that day.
- Create a “healthy behaviors” section on the classroom bulletin board. Enter your healthy behavior along with the students to continue to motivate each other to make healthy behavior changes.
- Lead and participate in active play in the classroom throughout the school day.
- Walk during recess and before lunch time with students.
- Schools that schedule recess before lunch report that students eat more fruits and vegetables, drink more milk, waste less food and are better behaved in the lunchroom and in the classroom.
- Encourage development of a classroom walking club; teachers, students and classroom volunteers can all track how far they walk every day.
- Make employee wellness a school priority.
- Serve healthy food at parent events.
- Share resources on healthy living with parents.
- Provide healthy eating handouts at parent conferences.
- Put information in a weekly newsletter about ways parents can role model by making healthy choices.
- Let parents know what new foods the kids tasted.
- Send home healthy recipes.
- Remind parents to limit screen time (for themselves and their kids).
Classroom teacher to classroom teacher communication is powerful in influencing health behavior change in the school setting. Working together and sharing experiences will help to strengthen the activities and may provide an increase in the number of teachers who promote healthy classroom behaviors.