Thursday, October 7, 2010

a healthy bit of bribery...

yes, I still don't know how to rotate my pics in blogger
Last year I was ridiculously impressed by how splattypus was able to change the eating habits of her kiddos. Ok, maybe not the eating habits, but she at least got them to bring in healthy snacks, which was such a refreshing change from the Cheetos, cookies, and chocolate puddings they'd been bringing in. (Yes, I sometimes bring my own chocolate pudding in my lunch. But I'm old enough to make informed decisions.)

Inspired by their class my partner-in-crime and I decided to take it on this year. We instituted the rule that unhealthy snacks would be returned to the backpack and replaced by a simple snack provided by the classroom. Yet that seemed to leave us with some grumpy little ones, one of whom decided to bang his table up and down (I think he'd spent the summer watching The Real Housewives of NJ...)  I don't blame him really. He had a yummy snack. If some stupid teacher had taken that snack away from me I would have banged a table myself.

So, for additional motivation we started taking their pictures if they brought in fruit. Their pictures get posted on a board that says "Healthy Snack Club". They love it. In fact, the fruit intake in our classroom has gone up considerably since our picture-snapping began. They cheese it up for the camera and proudly tell us that they begged their parents for apples/bananas/grapes so they could get their picture taken.

And of course, because in kindergarten we're learning to read and everything we do should somehow link back to reading, we're making a healthy snack book where, get this...  if you bring in a healthy snack like fruit you get... wait for it...  your own page!  (If you were five you'd be dying of excitement right now.)
You have your big picture on the page with a line that says "Pixie likes apples!". In the end it will be a simple big book of repetitive text they can read independently.

The only downside of this is that now partner-in-crime and I have to keep our own unhealthy snacks hidden. That drawer full of chocolate has to remained closed as long as the kids are in the room.


jwg said...

I understand the desire to encourage healthier snacks, I really do. But if my kid had his snack confiscated I would be at the school and in your face so fast! How do you know why parents give the snacks they do? Perhaps the family's food comes from as local food pantry and fruits and vegetables are in short supply. Perhaps the snack is a reward for something the kid did at home. Whatever the reason, it is a parental decision. Educate all you want, but in this case confiscation is theft.

magpie said...

That's a great way to get them reading.
I notice a lot of children reading there class books in free time towards the end of the year.
Those photo's must be cute.

Surani said...

>Educate all you want, but in this case confiscation is theft.

jwg, please bother to read what you're responding to:

"We instituted the rule that unhealthy snacks would be returned to the backpack and replaced by a simple snack provided by the classroom."

She isn't confiscating them, just asking them to put them back in their backpacks to eat at lunch or after school. Meanwhile, these teachers are spending their OWN money on healthier snacks.

So that family using the local food pantry? Now has more food for their kid.


organized chaos said...

jwg- Don't worry- we absolutely are not confiscating the snack. A lot of our children do get their food from food bank- we'd never take food away from them and not give it back. We put their soda/chip/candy back in the backpack and tell them they can eat it when they get home. Then we provide them with our own snack so no one goes hungry.
What I learned last year from watching one of my co-teachers do this was that the families in the lowest socio-economic situations responded to best. They were the families who went from sending in a huge bag of dorritos every day to sending their child in with fruit. I knew those families- I'd worked with their older brothers and sisters and I never thought they'd change their snack-ways. But because their five year old asked for it they made a change. Many of these parents cannot read in English or Spanish. Our children do not get to go outside to play because it is not safe. If we can teach them as kindergarten students to make healthy choices when they can and we introduce them to the fact that fruit tastes good- we're giving them a huge gift.
We've also told all of the parents this, in many languages. We sent home a picture sort of what snacks they could bring to school and what they could not. We do home visits and talk about it there. None of our parents seem upset by it- in fact, most appreciate that their kindergarten student is asking for fruit.
It's good to hear a parent's perspective and know that this could be seen as infringing on their decisions. We'll keep that in mind when we're talking to parents about it and make sure they are on board.