Lusk National School is currently aiming to achieve both the Health Promoting School Flag (HPS) and Active School Flag. By doing so, we will gain recognition for being a school that strives to achieve a healthy and physically active school community. Physical activity and a balanced, nutritious diet are crucial to a child’s development. Improved self-esteem and mood, better energy and concentration levels and a better sleep quality are all benefits of physical activity and a healthy diet. Recently studies, however, have shown that 1 in 4 children in Ireland is over-weight or obese and 4 out of 5 school children do not get the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity per day.
To achieve both of these flags, we will be introducing some new initiatives which will encourage children to become healthier and more active throughout the year.
Active School flag Initiatives:
- Drop Everything And Run (DEAR) Time: As a quick break during lessons, children will go outside and run around in a non-competitive, fun environment, DEAR time.
- Move It Monday: Each Monday, before school, during Fruit Break and Big Break, children perform 30 seconds exercise, like jumping jacks, run on the spot, squats etc.
Healthy Eating Flag Initiatives
- Teachers giving Sweets as Treats: Sweets as a reward system will be replaced with a reward system where the class, child or winning table earn alternative, active rewards which are not sweet related (extra PE, 10mins outside, stationary, stickers, less homework, sit on pillows etc.)
- Fruit and Drink Break: Our little break will be renamed ‘Fruit and Drink Break’. Children will be encouraged to eat their piece of fruit during this time and also drink their healthy drink like water or milk. Of course, if children finish their fruit they can eat something else from their lunchbox.
- Treats on Fridays: If you are giving your child a treat on Friday, treat size is extremely important. Children may only bring 1 small treat on Friday only, (a treat sized bar, a biscuit, chocolate spread etc.) If a child’s lunch includes a treat that is too big, the child will be asked to eat a small piece and bring the rest home. It is great to see more and more treat free lunch boxes!
Finally, a ‘Healthy and Active Flag’ Ideas box is situated at the reception office. This is for parents, students and anybody else in the community who may have ideas about how we can make our school even more active and healthier.
Thank you for your co-operation in making our school a healthier and more active place!
Tips for Parents
Reduce Portion Sizes
- Give them smaller portions of food on their plates to start with, and if they want more food, then give it to them.
- If they say they’re hungry, offer them something nutritious like fruit and vegetables (for example, an apple or handful of grapes).
- Avoid having fatty and sugary snack foods freely available between and after meals.
- Don’t pressure them to eat all the food on their plate, allow them to stop when they say ‘I’ve had enough’.
- Look at the proportions of food you offer during the day, they should be roughly:
- One third fruit and veg
- One third starchy foods like bread and potatoes
- One third dairy (milk, cheese and yogurt) and protein (meat and fish)
Manage food that should be treats
- Cut down on treat foods, but don’t ban them. Banning them makes them more appealing.
- Shopping is a danger time – just buy treats sometimes and don’t have a supply at home. If they’re not in the house, they can’t be eaten.
- Keep the sweets cupboard or cookie jar out of sight – and out of mind.
- Tell family and friends you’re making changes so they know about the new routine.
- When you have sugary foods, eat them with a meal. It’s better for their teeth and means they won’t fill up on treats between meals
- Say the kitchen is closed when mealtimes are over, but allow them access to healthy snacks such as fruit, chopped vegetables and water and then send them off to play.
- In the long run, it’s kinder to say no – don’t be afraid to say it!
- Praise them and offer non-food treats, like a game of football, a trip to the playground etc.
- Get into the habit of having them every second day or less
Replacing Sugary Drinks
- If your family loves soft drinks or other sweetened drinks, reduce them gradually.
- Start by adding plenty of water to cordials and squashes.
- Add extra water each time to squashes and cordials to reduce your child’s taste for sweetness.
- Keep sweetened drinks for the weekend.
- Make water freely available between meals.
- Water is tastier when it’s cold:
- Put a jug of water in the fridge
- Add a slice of lime, lemon or orange to give it flavour and colour
Make Being Active Fun
- If your children have not been active at all, start slowly with bursts of 15 to 30 minutes – and build it into your daily routine.
- Add activities over time until they reach the goal of at least 60 minutes a day.
- Free play is just as important as structured sports. Running around, playing in the garden or local park and having fun ALL count.
- Kids love a challenge – setting them a task is a great way to get them active and keep them focused. For example, ask them: ‘How many times can you throw and catch a ball between you without dropping it?’ or ‘How many skips can you do in a minute?’.
- Check out activities in your area so your child can make local friends. Then you won’t have to drive them around. It can also help them to explore and develop confidence and social skills.
Less Screen Time
- Figure out how much screen time is typical for your family and aim to cut it in half.
- Don’t make too many strict rules at once. Start gradually and reduce by 30 minutes a day or every second day
- Remove screens from your children’s rooms.
- Explain to family and friends that you are reducing screen time and make sure that TV watched outside the home is part of their daily allowance or goal.
- Make meal-times a technology-free zone – no phones, TV, computers etc.
- Don’t forget to practise what you preach – if you’re attached to your device for long periods of time, your children will expect to be as well.
- Have a ‘no tech day’ once a week and plan some active time with your family.
Tips Encouraging More Sleep
- Regular bedtime routine can help children get the right amount of sleep.
- Encourage children to be active in the evenings to tire them out.
- Finish eating 2 or 3 hours before bedtime.
- Create a sleep-friendly environment that is dark, quiet, comfortable and cool.
- Keep your child’s bedroom a TV-free zone and get them to charge their phones and other devices downstairs.
- The recommended hours of sleep per night are:
- 11 hours for under 5 year olds
- 10 hours+ for over 5 year olds
- 9 hours for over 10 year olds