Top Ten Tips to Promote Healthy Students
1. Enable and encourage more students to walk and bike to school.
- Evaluate the safety and accessibility of key features such as sidewalks, bike lanes, and bicycle storage areas.
- Establish "walking school buses" and "bicycle trains" in which parents take turns walking or biking to and from school with students.
2. Evaluate the possibility for outdoor classrooms.
- Determine how many teachers currently hold classes outside. Interview them to see how they utilize the outdoors as a classroom and share their tips with other teachers.
- Improve the school grounds to create functional spaces for teachers to conduct their classes outside.
- Read the report "Time Out: Using the Outdoors to Enhance Classroom Performance."
3. Develop a school-wide campaign to encourage students to get outside every day for a "Green Hour."
4. Make recess a part of every student's school day.
- Check out the non-profit organization Playworks for information about the importance of recess.
- Work with school administrators to figure out a way for students to have a recess break every day.
- If recess is not possible, find ways to take lessons outside (for example, make science observations on an outdoor walk) and to incorporate physical activity into indoor lessons (for example, act out action words from a story).
- Read "Recess Makes Kids Smarter" from Scholastic.
5. Add a garden (or improve an existing one) on your school grounds.
- Involve students in the process of planning, establishing and maintaining the garden.
- Use hands-on learning in the garden to teach environmental science and other subjects.
6. Encourage students to be more active.
- Schedule a fun run or walk for your school community.
- Consider taking part in the NFL Play 60 program which encourages kids to be active for 60 minutes every day. Implement the program outdoors to increase outside time simultaneously.
- Look for resources and inspiration from the Let’s Move initiative.
- Brainstorm opportunities to get students up and moving around in the classroom while teaching daily lessons.
7. Hold a fundraiser to purchase supplies to get kids outside.
- Consider options for fundraisers that will raise not only funds but also awareness about your campaign. For example, a community walk or run with a modest sign-up cost, or an active relay for which students collect pledges, will help communicate your goals.
- Items for your "wish list" might include:
- Equipment for active outdoor play such as jump ropes, hula hoops and sidewalk chalk
- Garden supplies such as shovels, rakes, plants and seeds
- Tools for outdoor investigation such as magnifying glasses, binoculars, pond nets and field guides
- Fundraisers could also be a strategy to raise money for outdoor field trips.
8. Increase the number of outdoor field trips for students.
- Field trips need not require a large transportation budget. Explore nearby, walkable areas in your community such as parks, trails, lakeshores and riverfronts.
- Make an effort to incorporate outdoor time even on indoor field trips. For instance, walk to your destination or have a picnic lunch outside afterward.
9. Encourage students to connect with nature by observing and exploring the great outdoors.
10. Encourage teachers to assign "outdoor homework" in their classes.
- No matter what the subject area, teachers can find ways to use the outdoors as inspiration or research subject. For instance:
- Language Arts: Write a poem about a natural object or a favorite outdoor place.
- Science: Make a hypothesis about a natural process and record observations to test the hypothesis.
- Math: Collect weather data and graph trends over time.
- Geography: Create or follow a map of an outdoor area.
- Visual Arts: Use the landscape or natural objects to inspire artwork.