By Kelly Dickey
The Herald Bulletin
---- — ANDERSON -- As more schools across the nation look toward teaching children about healthier lifestyles, some Anderson preschools may be ahead of the game.
Local preschools are taking steps to improve students’ physical health and their nutritional knowledge.
Educators at Gateway Association Child Development Center have taken steps in the cafeteria and the classroom to improve students’ diets, said Jenny Skinner, director of childhood programs. Lunches have strict portion guidelines and teachers educate kids about healthy choices.
Gateway teachers create nutritional lesson plans throughout the year, Skinner said. During mealtimes they’ll talk to kids about the foods they’re eating.
Younger children learn more about tastes, textures and colors of healthy food, while teachers go in to more depth about nutritional value with older kids.
Skinner said she’s noticed a positive difference in students’ choices.
“During classroom parties we’ll have some nice goodies like cookies or cupcakes,” she said. “But I’ve noticed kids are now tending to lean more toward choosing fruits, vegetables and healthier snacks during classroom parties.”
Anderson Christian School has made many adjustments to what educators teach, and the school has gotten students to move more, EduCare director Janet Cunningham said.
The school has doubled students’ physical activity level throughout the years, she said. Teachers also have continually taught students about the different food groups and how to make healthy choices.
Cunningham said the school minimizes kids’ electronic use in the classroom for health reasons, but healthy choices also have to be made when students are home.
“It can’t all be done with us during the day and then they go home and eat candy,” she said. “Preschoolers move and groove on their own, so if they don’t have electronics they have to be physical.”
Cunningham’s goal is to eventually get more fresh fruit and vegetables to students at school, although it would be the more expensive route.
Skinner said Gateway is also looking into ways to get fresh produce to preschoolers, as well as expand their knowledge. Educators are looking into possibly creating a garden so they can teach kids how to plant and harvest their own fruits and vegetables.
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