Elementary: Healthy Habits
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building Healthy habits
March 2022

Parents have significant potential to influence their children's behavior. This includes eating habits, physical activity and mental wellbeing. Parents outrank sports celebrities as the person their child "would like to be most," You can help your child learn to make healthy food choices, engage in regular physical activity and get enough sleep by being a good role model.
Middle Years development instrument
All data included in this Snapshot is from the Greater Victoria School District 2021 Middle Years Development Instrument (MDI).

MDI is a survey completed by students. It is designed to assess children's wellbeing inside and outside of school. 

Sleep wonderful sleep!
Sleep is an essential building block for your child’s mental and physical health. Research shows that sleep impacts alertness and attention, mood, resiliency, learning and memory. 
Sleep needs change as your child grows older, but whether you’re dealing with a 5 year-old or a teenager, studies show that a consistent bedtime routine is helpful. Wherever possible, try to follow a regular schedule and a wind-down period before bed. 

Whatever activities you choose, try to do the same ones every night in the same order so your child knows what to expect. A typical bedtime routine might include:
- Turning off computers, TV screens, video games and other bright lights one hour before bed
- Taking a bath
- Putting on pajamas and brushing teeth
- Reading a light book 

Common reasons your child might not go to sleep include:
A power struggle
Anxiety, stress, or other mental health concerns
Bedroom set-up
Bring overtired
Caffeine consumption (pop)
Excessive electronic usage
Fears, such as the dark
Feeling left out
Lack of bedtime routine
Lack of transition

37% of students report getting a good night's sleep 4 or less times per week
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20% of students report going to bed after 10pm
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Food wonderful food!
Keeping conversations around food positive can help strengthen your child’s relationship with food. Try to emphasize all of the good things about healthy eating, instead of focusing on the effects of unhealthy eating. Consider the following suggestions:
Avoid restricting foods or describing them as ’good‘ or ’bad‘. Instead, aim for balance – eat healthy most of the time, and every now and then you might like to eat ’sometimes‘ foods.

Teach your child to eat when they‘re hungry and to stop when they‘re full. This helps your child learn to recognize whether they‘re eating out of true hunger or eating out of boredom or tiredness. 
Talk about how food can support positive outcomes that interest your child, like athletic ability, school performance or feeling strong.

Empathize health over weight. Consider your child's overall picture of health, not weight.
Weight-focused conversations with younger kids can manifest later as low self-esteem, unhealthy body image and disordered eating during adolescence.
Compliment your children on lifestyle behaviors, such as choosing to play outside over playing video games, rather than on the loss of a few pounds

Talk about your enjoyment and interest in the healthy food you‘re eating. This can encourage your child to enjoy eating healthy and view food as “a source of joy and nourishment” rather than an enemy. 
Try to keep food neutral. Using food as a reward can undermine the healthy eating habits that you're trying to teach your children. It interferes with kids' natural ability to regulate their eating by encouraging them to eat to reward themselves even if they're not hungry.

You can offer a number of other rewards, not related to food. Consider these options:

- An outing to their favourite playground
- Watching their favorite movie as a family
- Extra reading time before bed
- Sleepover with a friend
- Playing a favorite game with a parent
27% of students report eating "junk" food 5 times a more a week
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Meal time
Studies have shown that children who eat breakfast retain information better and tend to have more focus than those who do not. While our muscles can use stored energy from food we ate yesterday, our brain prefers energy from food we have eaten recently.

Eating breakfast ensures that blood sugar levels return to normal after not eating for
8-10 hours while sleeping. 

Even though mornings can be rushed, help set your child up for success by making sure they start the day with a healthy breakfast.
Researchers have found that families who share meals together on a regular basis reap many benefits. 

Family meals offer parents a chance to be role models. They can set an example of healthy eating and polite table manners.
Family meals provide an opportunity for family to come together, strengthen ties and build relationships. They enhance a sense of belonging which leads to stronger self-esteem.

Research shows that kids who eat family meals have a lower chance of engaging in high risk behaviors such as substance use and violence, and fewer psychological problems.
81% of students report eating meals with their adult family members 5 or more times per week 
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love of movement
Did you know that only about 1 in 4 children get the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity per day? In addition participation in physical activity drops dramatically as a children get older.
Parents can help children to develop the motivation and love for physical activity through physical literacy. 

Physical literacy is about having the physical skills, confidence and love of movement to be active for life. 

Physical literacy is no different than other aspects of literacy. Children aren’t born physically literate—just like they aren’t born knowing how to read or count.
Children need to be taught fundamental movement skills such as balance, throwing, running, climbing, hopping, jumping, kicking, skipping and catching. When they develop these skills they feel more confident and motivated to be active.

A child who is  confident in their movement skills at an early age is more likely to be physically active in later years. 
Research shows that without the development of physical literacy, many young people withdraw from physical activity and turn to more inactive choices. Simply put, physical activity is a lot more fun when you are physically literate. 

Click on the button for activities you can do to support building the skills, confidence and love of movement in your children. 

55% of students rated their general health as medium to low 
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