With PPM150 having had some time to settle into schools, there are blog posts and parent forums popping up all over with discussions about food options being offered to students at schools. While the PPM does outline expectations for what foods can be offered to students at schools, many teachers provide food in class as a reward for good behaviour, sharing candies and snacks as curriculum connections (graphing M&Ms, making Rice Krispie Squares for measurement, blowing a bubble with bubblegum for procedure writing, etc.). Websites like Pinterest are full of ideas that involved engaging students with food and candies.
As a mom of a child with a food allergy and significant digestive struggles that require a very strict diet, I am often overwhelmed when she comes home from school to tell me about all of the special snacks she had that day. It is next to impossible for a 6-year-old to say no to a cupcake, so we as the educators need to make those healthy decisions for them by simply not offering them at all. With poor eating habits and obesity on the rise, we need to take advantage of the time we have when children’s diets are completely dependent on the decisions of adults and only provide them with healthy options.
I have had classes that “earned” a positive behaviour reward and we opted to have a balanced breakfast reward where the first period of our day was spent talking about healthy breakfast choices and then we had a balanced breakfast together complete with wholegrain cereal, milk, fruit, and even some veggies! They loved it because it was a snack and it was out of the ordinary!
Think about the value of what you are giving your students both nutritionally and educationally. If you are giving candy or something that is not a healthy choice, ask yourself if there is a healthier option you could give that would get the same result (i.e., if you are teaching procedure with bubblegum, could you teach procedure with making oatmeal, or salad, or something else that is healthy?).