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 childcare teachers:
- Model healthy eating behaviors by consuming healthy foods and beverages.
- Make a point of eating healthy snacks with students.
- 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.)
- Share positive out-of-the-classroom healthy eating experiences with students.
- Eat lunch with students.
- Schedule a lunch bunch as an earned reward. Ask parents to provide healthy foods to eat that day.
- Lead and participate in active play in the classroom throughout the preschool day.
- Discuss the benefits of healthy food choices with students during snack and meal times.
- Walk during recess and before lunch time with students.
- 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.
- Encourage development of a classroom walking club; teachers, students and classroom volunteers can all track how far they walk every day.
Teacher to teacher communication is powerful in influencing health behavior change in the childcare 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 behaviors.