Raising a Natural Child in Public Schools - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 22 Old 06-01-2006, 05:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Soooooo...... we have decided to have dd #2 start our public school system in September. We are lucky to have a very good school system and it is very safe as well. However, at a concert last night at the local middle school we saw many children PIGGING out on nasty snacks from the VENDING machines in the CAF!!!! Soda, chips, you name it. ERGH... anyway... I hope what I teach at home will follow into school but how do you all deal with some of these issues ... its hard to be one of the only moms concerned about nutrition and a commercial-free childhood etc. I realize she will be exposed to many things we do not do at home (spongebob LOL, candy, violent play/videos, etc.) and I just need to make myself feel okay about being able to handle all this.

Any advice?

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#2 of 22 Old 06-01-2006, 05:20 PM
 
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I think you have to be prepared for a little bit of interest in these new things that she hasn't done much of in her own home. Does that mean that if she's an avid reader she's going to hate reading and only want to watch tv? Of course not. I think the key is to avoid overreacting when she shows interest in activities you're not thrilled with.

As for food, we are very into healthy and natural foods for her, and while I don't like the idea of her eating a Twinkie, I know it will happen and it's not going to kill her (it may kill me though). Hopefully, years and years of eating fruit and naturally sweetened foods will have "trained" the taste buds so that she prefers the healthier foods; but I know once in a while she will have something that isn't so great for her.

I know peer pressure is strong, but I feel that if we do a good job in instilling confidence in our daughter, she won't be embarassed to admit she prefers organic iced tea to Coca Cola or a -gasp!- book to a video game. You can only do what you can do. Your dd will probably surprise you (in a good way).
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#3 of 22 Old 06-01-2006, 05:44 PM
 
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my daughter started kindergarten this past year, and had been junk-free prior to that (we didn't preschool.) There aren't any vending machines in our school,however-each family brings a snack and a drink every day for the kids. Yes, I've been appalled many times! At the beginning of the year I contemplated speaking up about it and seeing if there could be a ban on sugar (I'm talking the straight up fake fruit punch in gallon jugs-hostess snacks, etc.) But I saw that budget might be an issue for some of the families (those types of snacks are at Costco, envirobars are not, and perhaps those snacks end up being less expensive and are more convenient than carrot sticks, etc. to someone who has a busy day.) Anyway, I decided to apply the old I can control us but not others principle, and send healthy snacks when it's her turn, and go with the flow for the rest. I make sure her diet at home is up to snuff, and let her join in with her peers.
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#4 of 22 Old 06-01-2006, 06:21 PM
 
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My DD is in Kinder now and brings a snack for recess. She shares with other kids and get to taste "fruit snacks", cookies, doritos and other not so healthy foods. But I try to send healthy snacks for her and she at least eats them on the way home if not during recess. Next year in First grade I have to deal with school lunch so that will be a different story.

No vending machines at her school either. Look into getting them banned, California schools did at the elementary school level.
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#5 of 22 Old 06-01-2006, 07:15 PM
 
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Ds will be going into the third grade and since he is a bit adhd this is a concern for me.

Our school has no vending machines, thankfully.

I pack him a lunch and snack every school day. He gives me input as to what he likes so I try to send things I know he wants/will eat. I am aware that he eats stuff other kids give him. I've talked to him about it, saying that eating those foods may have an effect on his behavior and ability to concentrate. I told him I can't control what he eats when he's not with me or Daddy but if he makes that choice he'll have to deal with any consequences that come of it.

When it comes up I explain the health reasons I make the food choices I do at home. I tell him that not everyone eats the way we do and it's a personal choice.

I know he's still a bit young and impulsive to make good choices all the time, but the party line is it IS his choice. I can only do so much. He does notice a difference in the way he feels when he eats processed and/or sugary food. When he has a bad day at school we talk about what he ate. I don't punish him for his food choices, but he does get consequences for poor behavior. I'm hoping that as he gets older he'll make the connection more cleanly and make good choices - esp. since the choices have been his to make all along. Luckily his teachers and the asst. principal (who is usually on lunch duty) know about his issues and remind him that he needs to be eating the food I packed for him.

I want to leave this as much his choice as I can. I really don't want to micromanage his eating. We only have healthy foods at home so overall he has a good diet. Barring any serious allergies, I wouldn't micro-manage food. I would just keep an open dialogue and let your dd know why you make the food choices you make at home, and that you hope she will make good choices as well.

I would also look into getting rid of the vending machines. I hate it when schools allow them. So glad ours doesn't.
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#6 of 22 Old 06-01-2006, 08:47 PM
 
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This has been a big concern for us now that we are looking at possibly leaving our Waldorf school.

I grew up in a very health-conscious home but went to a traditional school. In all honesty, I really pigged out at school and coveted other kids' junk.

Ultimately, as an adult, I have become more conscientious than my mom was but I did go through a long phase of bingeing. I think if we send our kids to schools where junk is the norm, we have to compromise and try not to demonize the junk...it is exasperating that schools would make this so hard by not setting any boundaries.

I'm really not too sure how we will deal with this if we go to a non-waldorf school. I guess we'll try to find a balance and hope that maybe we can gather enough parents to set some basic guidelines.

*I just had a flashback of gobbling down a giant bowl of lucky charms at my friends house.
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#7 of 22 Old 06-01-2006, 09:52 PM
 
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Estraiton, I SERIOUSLY feel your pain. Dd is in private school (full-time language immersion preschool) so they don't have vending machines or soda in school, but we have other issues. We have a double-whammy against us. Dd is EXTREMELY sensitive to additives, preservatives, colorings and chemical processing agents. Additionally, she has very weak enamel on her teeth, so sugar is a major no-no. I spent this year talking and talking and talking to dd's teachers about not giving her candy as treats, which went largely ignored. We had to have a cap put on dd's molar this spring. We had the dentist write her a letter... still didn't work. I gave up on that one.

But, my major issue now is the school's lunch policy. The current "hot" lunch they serve is $5/day. To make it more financially accessible, they dropped the price to ONLY $3.50/day for next year, but they've made it mandatory for EVERYONE to participate. The fee will be part of tuition. This really burns my a$$ because they think they are offering healthy food. But it's not preservative free, it's not organic, and it's not whole grain. They are going to offer some relatively healthy items (although not whole foods), but they are also going to offer things like pizza, nuggets, and nachos, juice, desserts... I know my dd would bee-line it to the junk every day. I have made my complaints loudly... fell on deaf ears. They are still scratching their heads over my "juice is not healthy" comment... even after explaining that kids need to be eating the fruit, where the juice comes from. Duh!! I felt like : after trying to explain this stuff to them. Bottom line... we'll end up paying for the hot lunch, and still send dd's lunch with her.

I don't have the answer... just some sympathy. At least at my dd's school, they are not allowed to share food.
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#8 of 22 Old 06-01-2006, 10:17 PM
 
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Vending machines are not allowed in the k-5 public school my kids attended. Huge amounts of "lunchable crap" but we just pack our own lunches. I make them varied and "cool" enough that my kids have never been teased.
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#9 of 22 Old 06-01-2006, 10:19 PM
 
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Why are these educators so oblivious when it comes to nutrition? It really should be ingrained in the teachers that optimal learning will happen when kids are properly fed.

Sorry, I guess now I'm just whining.
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#10 of 22 Old 06-01-2006, 10:55 PM
 
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Originally Posted by mijumom
Why are these educators so oblivious when it comes to nutrition? It really should be ingrained in the teachers that optimal learning will happen when kids are properly fed.
Umm, can you say “corporate sponsorship?” I know in high schools Coke or whomever will pay for the big screen score board if the school signs an agreement with them for exclusive control over their vending machines. I was under the impression that was on its way out as well. Maybe not? I’ve taught in Elementary schools my whole career and I’ve never seen a vending machine in any of them. Not one.

For the end of year parties and such? Healthy parties are the norm nowadays. Now, I can’t speak for the good old US of A, but in every province I’ve taught in Canada nutrition is a major component of the Health, Science and Physical Education curriculums. Daily vigourous exercise or a scheduled gym class is mandated as well. Yeah, every once in a while a parent will send along a bag of chips for a class party, but the teacher has veto power and I always send junk home again. Don’t say that teachers should know better. Come on, this is about board policy and backroom deals. Teachers have very little, if anything, to do with that.

To the OP: talk to your school’s administration team and approach it from a curriculum standpoint. What are the goals and expectations for health and nutrition being taught in their classrooms? How is the school sending a clear and consistent message about these goals? If there is no curriculum for nutrition then I’m afraid you’ve got bigger problems and may have to go higher up the chain of command to the board office. I agree with the previous posters that children will indulge in whatever is forbidden, but come back to what is familiar. I was never allowed junk as a kid and even today have no interest in chips, soda pop etc. but I’ve had my moments...

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#11 of 22 Old 06-01-2006, 11:04 PM
 
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I'm sorry to say that at the local schools here in CA, I've seen candy, fruit loops etc. given to children by the teachers either as rewards or supposed learning tools. The things the teachers describe as healthy are not much better.

My point was, that the powers that be should be giving the teachers the training and authority to maintain healthy habits in the classroom.

You would be an exception here.
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#12 of 22 Old 06-01-2006, 11:51 PM
 
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There aren't vending machines in K-5 where we live either. We pack healthy lunches, but DS does get to bring money for a snack during lunch every so often and I only give him 35 cents so he ends up buying choc milk. He has had cupcakes on birthdays, but from my perspective eating cake with your friends on your birthday is great fun.

TV/video game wise --- we don't have cable or much tv viewing or any game systems and ds has started to ask why. Thus far I have told him I would rather spend our after school time talking, bike riding, going for walks, swimming, etc. etc. and he has agreed. Don't know how long that will last, but so far so good.

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#13 of 22 Old 06-02-2006, 02:17 AM
 
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Why are these educators so oblivious when it comes to nutrition?
It has nothing to do with the teachers but the Board of Education. They are the ones who approve things and set up the rules. The teachers can only enforce the rules setup by the BOE.

The teachers can't enforce nutritious lunches other than sending a note home unless the teachers are going to be paying for the kids lunches and snacks which isn't(and shouldn't) going to happen.

My kids attend schools with no cafeterias(which 99% of the time have food just as bad as or worse than vending machines). There are no vending machines for snacks(I think they're actually illegal in primary schools here). There is 2 pop machines by the gym. I don't know if they actually have pop, I know there is juice(powerade type stuff) in them. In the 3 years my dd has been at this school she's had(and asked for it) once and that was either early this school year or this time last year. There is a milk fridge that they can get white or chocolate milk at lunch for double the cost of buying it in the store.

My dd asks alot for the same things her friends are eating so we go to the store and read the ingrediants. She knows sugar is not good for you and when the first ingrediant says sugar it's a no-no. I buy them on special occassion for her. I can't afford to buy that kind of stuff, I have #2 entering the school in the fall and #3 the fall after.
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#14 of 22 Old 06-02-2006, 02:38 AM
 
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If a teacher is using candy and sweets in a classroom to reward children or even using them within lessons, he/she is responsible. I don't want to argue. I have met with plenty of teachers and have firends in the public shool system who are dealing directly with teachers who defend their practices and certainly espouse that juice is healthy and that candy and sweets are perfectly appropriate. They do not say "We want it out of here but the board won't let us". Come on they have some degree of responsibility and, my point was that in a perfect world they would be clued in to the effects of sugar and overall nutrition for children as part of their training. Still, I agree that even more compelling are the corporate tie-ins (eg. McTeachers night at McDonalds where the teachers serve the kids McDonalds). The schools need and deserve better funding so that they are not reliant upon these nefarious entities.
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#15 of 22 Old 06-02-2006, 01:58 PM
 
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Originally Posted by mijumom
The schools need and deserve better funding so that they are not reliant upon these nefarious entities.
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#16 of 22 Old 06-02-2006, 04:26 PM
 
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We don't have vending machines in our schools. The junior high does have a juice/bottled water machine, but they can only buy it after school hours.

I've been pretty lucky that the teachers my kids have had don't rely on "junk" and actually encourage the kids to bring in healthy snacks.
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#17 of 22 Old 06-02-2006, 06:10 PM
 
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My dd is finishing u K here as well. She is not a big junk food eater at all. I must admit, I probably eat more junk food than her. Anyways, her school has no soda or vending machines and she is basically a packer, but likes to buy 2 of the lunches they have (pizza and tacos), she won't eat anything else. So I figured one a month or so she may buy lunch which to me is no big deal since she is not relying on those meals for her nutrition. Also, now that the weather is changing she is a HUGE water drinker and will prefer that over anything else so I'm not going to sweat over a cookie or something every now and then.
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#18 of 22 Old 06-04-2006, 05:58 PM
 
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DD is in 1st grade in a public school, and there are no vending machines. There are snacks available for purchase in the cafeteria, though, but I don't give her money for them.

Our school lunch menu is pretty bad - typical "kid food" entrees, no cooked veggies (just salad - iceberg lettuce, whoopee), so DD brings lunch from home. She also brings snack (all the kids do), but her snack is usually the only healthy one in the class - most kids eat Doritos or snack packs of Oreos or whatever.

One thing I did this year was help start a nutrition committee, and while our progress is slow, we already have managed to replace certain junky items on the snack menu with healthier alternatives. We've also been having "tasting days" to test out new foods on the kids. We've done several things to bring the idea of improving school nutrition to more parents. Fortunately, the principal is behind us.

One thing I wish we could change - and maybe we can - is the junk food kids receive in the classroom. Candy as rewards for good behavior, sugary foods for every single celebration, etc. I'm not so restrictive that I mind that my daughter has treats now and then, but I just don't like the message that schools send by accompanying everything good with sugar!
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#19 of 22 Old 06-04-2006, 06:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Luna - I love your idea of starting a nutrition committee... can you tell me more about how you went about it and how you function>?

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#20 of 22 Old 06-05-2006, 01:13 AM
 
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We have a wellness committee in our school too...

Jen, former attorney and now SAHM to 11 yo ds and 8 yo ds

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#21 of 22 Old 06-05-2006, 09:30 AM
 
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Having had a child in school and one in preschool, they might eat well at home and you can send all the best snacks and foods for them each day, but they WILL test other foods. It's just a part of being curious. The kids in my sons 4th grade class last year would swap food at the lunch table every day. Hardly anyone ever ate what they took in to school that morning and then there were the parents that brought in unhealthy snacks like doughnuts, cupcakes, etc for special times throughout the year. The kids will eat such things in order to not be the only ones 'not' eating it. You just won't ever know. My son goes to private school though and they have fresh, daily cooked meals, not the stuff like public schools have. And snacks have to be bought extra so he doesn't take extra $$ for those each day unless I let him.

The way I see it, they will eat it sooner or later anyway. So I try not to worry about it. If I try and force my kids not to eat certain foods they will just want it that much more.

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#22 of 22 Old 06-05-2006, 03:10 PM
 
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Luna - I love your idea of starting a nutrition committee... can you tell me more about how you went about it and how you function>?
Sure -

Honestly, it just started when I started talking to a bunch of people about how disappointed I was with our school's lunch menu, since we live in an area where people are fairly well educated and quite a lot of people do try to feed their kids healthy foods. So a few of us joined together, went to a parent council meeting and announced that we were starting a committee, and some people signed up, and there you go. We meet once a month, and we have developed a relationship with the person who does all the ordering for the school cafeterias. We've outlined both short-term and long-term goals and met with the principal to discuss them, and she's all for it. For example, one short-term goal was to get certain junky items off the a la carte snack list, which is where the school makes a lot of money. We had them remove "fruit" snacks, fruit punch, and "fruit" roll ups - notice I put fruit in quotes, because there's no fruit in any of 'em!!! They replaced the punch with bottled water, and added baked potato chips and lowfat frozen yogurt to the snack menu. It's a start! We've accomplished other stuff but I won't go into detail here. You can pm me if you want.
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