Access to drinking water throughout the entire day gives students the opportunity to stay hydrated which may improve their cognitive function (readiness to learn), dental and physical health. When children drink more water, they consume fewer calories from sugar-sweetened beverages, increase their energy levels and ability to concentrate. Students should also have access to drinking water in out of school programs.
Here are a few Policy, System and Environmental change (PSE) examples to promote the availability of healthy beverages:
- Keep small pitchers or jugs of water at the site.
- Have child-sized pitchers available so the younger children can enhance their motor skills while pouring water for themselves.
- Clean and sanitize water pitchers, dispensers and reusable cups daily.
- Ask parents to donate age appropriate reusable water bottles.
- Encourage students to drink from their water bottles.
- Recommend parents provide water for healthy celebrations.
- Ensure that children drink water before and after physical activity.
- Add orange, lemon, or lime slices, or fresh herbs like mint to water pitchers to enhance taste and encourage children to drink water.
- Educate parents about the importance of water consumption, and about limiting children’s juice consumption to 4-6 oz. of 100% fruit juice per day.
At the site:
- Incorporate water into out of school lessons on health, nutrition, and physical education.
- Talk and read about water and healthy beverages.
- Have students create posters about the importance of drinking water and healthier beverages. Post near water fountains and kitchens, and other high-traffic areas, such as by the door where children are dropped off or picked up.
- Serve unflavored low-fat 1% or non-fat milk
- Encourage staff to model healthy behaviors, including drinking from reusable bottles in front of the students.
- Healthy Changes for Out of School Youth