In Praise of Recess
There is no known research suggesting that elimination or reduction of recess supports improved student learning or improves student behavior. Recess, we know, is an essential component of the elementary school day. School leaders should be proactive in ensuring well-maintained, safe, age-appropriate outdoor environments.
Parents' Place at School
Not every parent is going to respond with equal enthusiasm to your outreach. Parents may be intimidated by the school bureaucracy, or work two jobs and have little time for helping with homework or attending parent-teacher conferences. It’s a reality that requires school leaders to go the extra mile in reaching out.
The New Community Engagement
Parents’ level of school participation varies widely, based on their desire and their ability to participate. The key for school districts is to meet parents where they are, address their biggest needs, and help them move, at their own pace, to greater involvement. This policy benefits all major stakeholders.
Title IX's Legacy
Thirty-three years ago, the disparities between boys’ and girls’ teams were striking. Peggy Hausler, a varsity player, shared a uniform with a JV player whose team played immediately before hers. The JV team would peel off their uniforms, and the “Women of Troy” put them on and took to the court.
Caring for Student Health
It makes perfect sense: If you don’t feel well, you won’t perform well. Numerous studies have shown that school-based health centers can improve student health while lowering hospitalizations and Medicaid expenses. Several have noted sharp reductions in absenteeism and tardiness rates in schools where health centers exist.
Education Vital Signs: Health & Wellness
Education Vital Signs collection of reports on Health & Wellness.
Childhood obesity is a growing problem. According to some studies, an estimated 17 percent of children ages 2 to 19 are obese. At least one study has shown that overweight children were absent from school significantly more than normal-weight children. Obese children also may be at risk for social discrimination.
Keeping Student Athletes Safe
Orange County Fire Chief Chip Prather and I met to discuss recent student athlete deaths. He emphasized three issues. The first issue was hydration. The second issue was response time and the use of the 911 emergency system. The third was the use of Automated External Defibrillators in schools.
The Risk of Student Concussions
The vast majority of concussions are mild, but the injury itself is complex, especially when it affects a child’s developing brain. Far too often, what began as mild head trauma develops into major life drama when students, families, and schools don’t fully comprehend the injury and don’t manage it properly.
Food Allergy Planning
A food allergy task force in the St. Louis area led by St. Louis Children’s Hospital was asked to develop a model school-based food allergy program. Months of research and conversation resulted in a set of recommendations in three areas: prevention, emergency management, and awareness resources.
Schools and Food Allergies
As many as 18 percent of children with diagnosed food allergies will have a reaction at school. Even more alarming is the fact that 25 percent of anaphylaxis incidents at schools happen to children who have not been diagnosed with a food allergy. Schools need to be prepared.
School Gardens a Growing Trend
“Buy local, Buy Fresh” seemed like a wonderful initiative. However, our district soon found that buying fruits and vegetables locally is often very difficult. The fresh food always cost more, and we were required to do our own pickup. We soon realized that our solution would need to be “home-grown.”
Making Playgrounds Safe and Secure
The role of outdoor learning environments in raising student achievement has unfortunately gotten little attention. Educational research overwhelmingly shows that outdoor play during the school day is more than just an exercise opportunity for children. The outdoor environment is a place for children to socialize, express ideas, and solve problems.
New School Sports on the Horizon
Overall participation in all high school sports has increased steadily for 20 years. The popularity of nontraditional sports such as lacrosse has continued to grow – and because these programs are often less expensive to operate – more and more schools are starting to take notice.
Education Prevents Students From Smoking
As part of this year’s annual Kick Butts Day at Van Buren High School, students collected every cigarette butt strewn across the school campus – and reported their count to the school board. The good news: It was the smallest collection of tobacco products gathered since the annual event began.
Children's Health in the National Spotlight
When “Naked Chef” Jamie Oliver solicited Huntington, W.Va. – America’s “fattest city” in 2008 -- to participate in his “Food Revolution” television series, the Cabell County School District gave him and a production crew access to its cafeterias. As the footage shows, it was not always a pleasant or pretty experience.
How School Leaders Cope with Stress
Maybe it was the federal stimulus funds, a slowdown in job losses, or an uptick in the stock market that has lightened the mood in the country. But, as analysts have warned, the United States isn’t in the clear yet. No one knows this better than the three educators profiled here.
Should You Serve Universal Breakfast?
Breakfast, sadly, is a disappearing morning ritual. Only 35 percent of parents with elementary-age children and 22 percent of parents of middle and high school students eat breakfast with their kids every day. Schools are trying to fill in the gaps; universal breakfast is back on the table.
Understanding and Preventing Teen Pregnancy
Between 2005 and 2006, the teen birth rate increased for the first time in 15 years, moving up 3 percent. Teen childbearing affects “both ends of childhood,” the teen mothers and their infants. Why is the teen birth rate increasing, and what does it mean for you and your schools?
The Leadership Role in School Health
A report from Action for Healthy Kids found that educators, parents, and students are perhaps more aware of school health issues than in the past, but too little is actually being done to address these issues. Students still aren’t getting enough exercise and don’t eat a healthy diet at school.
Building School-Community Partnerships
For overworked teachers, principals, and administrators, revamping and overseeing student exercise and nutrition programs falls under “other duties as assigned.” So when looking at efforts to improve student wellness, it makes sense for school boards to look beyond their own staffs and reach out to community organizations for help.
The Board's Role in Sustaining School Health
Sustainability is often the “devil in the details” that haunts many worthwhile efforts. School wellness programs are not exempt. One frequent problem is that school wellness programs can become too closely tied to a single “champion,” be it a board member, superintendent, principal, or teacher.
School Athletics Under the Ax
Eliminating sports doesn’t just take away a healthy, supervised activity for kids. It also robs them of lessons -- how to work as a team, manage time, set goals, and persevere -- that aren’t easily learned in classrooms. Studies show that activities like sports can focus and motivate students, and even keep them in school.
Healthy Children Become Productive Adults
Children will model the behavior they have learned at school for the rest of their lives. Schools are on the front line to prep tomorrow’s employment base. And in today’s global economy, we need clever entrepreneurs in the educational system to ship kids into shape and prime them for the workforce.
Healthy Children Learn Better
Healthy children learn better -- few statements in education are as unequivocal. We know this on a common-sense level, and the data backs it up. Research suggests that students’ health and learning are inextricably linked. Studies also show that school health programs boost students’ academic performance and improve behavior and attendance.
Keeping Your Employees Healthy
As medical expenses continue to soar, school districts are discovering that health promotion and intervention are sure strategies to contain cost increases. However, district officials and educators are motivated by another factor: Preaching a healthy lifestyle to students is ineffective if the adults around them aren’t doing it, too.
Health and Your Older School Employees
Employees over 50 are extremely valuable. They tend to be more loyal, have more experience and better attendance, be more punctual, have lower job turnover, hold a stronger commitment to quality, maintain a willingness to be mentors to new hires, and use better judgment on the job. That is, except when it comes to their own health.
Supporting Students With Deployed Parents
Children attending schools on or near military bases must confront challenges and stresses that most children would never dream of. These include long separations from a parent and fears that loved ones may not return. The stress level among military families in this period of extended conflict is substantial, and schools must be ready to assist.
Mental Health Services Lacking for At-Risk Children
The key to building a strong mental health program is not for schools to assume the mental health care of students, but for schools to provide seamless access to these services, which are best housed within schools and in partnership with community agencies. It is this intersection of community and school efforts that holds the best promise for improving mental health services for youth.
Counselors Bolstered by Data
Counselors and other student services areas are often viewed as nonessential positions. But they are essential. And rather than relying on anecdotes such as, "I know I did a good job today because I feel good about the students I saw," counselors have joined the data generation to show the results of their work.
Using Technology in Phys Ed Classes
For today's students, technology has made life easier and more exciting. At the same time, the Internet, instant messaging, video games, and cellphones have contributed to a generation that is far less active and more obese than ever. So, for schools, the question is how to use the power of technology to drive students toward a healthier life style.
Sick Buildings, Sick Students
The link between a student’s physical well-being and his or her academic performance is well documented, and most educators agree that a healthy environment is a key component to successful schools. But too often, “sick schools” —those with everyday environmental problems that affect student health—are overlooked. How widespread is the problem? More than half of U.S. schools have indoor air quality problems in at least some part of their campuses.
The Healthy Approach
Twenty years ago, Lloyd Kolbe and Diane Allensworth introduced the theory of coordinated school health, the idea that schools can improve students’ academic performance and overall physical well being by promoting health in a systemic way. Coordinated school health programs show that proper nutrition, exercise, and learning go hand-in-hand.
Calming Fears, Creating Partners
The unpredictable and serious nature of physical and mental-health crises on school campuses—from the pandemic flu and school shootings to food allergies and suicide—can leave parents feeling vulnerable and helpless. With research suggesting these incidents are on the rise, schools have a responsibility not only to know how they will respond, but also to tell parents—ahead of time—how schools will respond. Are your schools prepared to handle a crisis? Do parents turn to—not on—you when problems erupt?