By: Angela Asch, MA
Every year, 46 million children experience toxic stress through abuse, crime, violence, food insecurity or psychological trauma. By taking a whole child approach, caring and nurturing school environments buffer the effects of toxic stress, allowing children to grow, develop and learn in spite of adversity.
According to the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), an education organization, a whole child approach to education takes into account inclusive curricula, instructional strategies, school culture, family engagement and social-emotional wellness. Supporting optimal child growth and development is not a singular effort but requires a comprehensive and ongoing approach to create opportunities for each child to succeed.
Inclusive educational curricula engage, empower and prepare children for all areas of life, including career and collegiate success. Research-based strategies such as project-based learning and guided goal setting give children opportunities to practice and develop autonomy over their learning, thus creating individuals who think critically and are able to solve problems as they arise.
Nutrition education is part of a larger systems approach to health, delivered through schools, communities and policies. It exists in a variety of learning settings with diverse audiences, from classrooms to gardens to community centers. Nutrition education has the power to positively change individuals and communities.
Research shows that fostering healthy eating patterns of nutritious and wholesome foods sets the foundation for healthy eating habits that people sustain over a lifetime. That foundation starts before birth and continues into adulthood. Therefore, nutrition education provides a key opportunity to introduce and model healthy behaviors, affecting growth and development in the short and long term.
Nutrition education lends itself to food exploration and exposure, creating a shared understanding of culture and common language around health and wellness. Food literacy creates excitement around learning and supports children’s academic success, which in turn supports their social, emotional and mental well-being.
Schools that support robust engagement and create positive school climates support student success. Students engaged in a whole child approach are more likely to:
Dairy Council of California science-based programs and resources, which are aligned with current educational methodologies, inform and empower individuals, families and communities to practice positive, healthy eating behaviors through small steps that affect their health and well-being. Family education resources, as well as nutrition education programs for every grade level, support inclusive educational curricula and empower educators to create change in classrooms, schools and communities. Visit this link today to create positive change in your community.
Angela Asch, MA
Angela Asch, MA
Angela, Project Manager for Resource Development team, brings expertise in child development and nutrition education to her role.
1st grade teacher, Michaela Nealy, shares why she teaches nutrition education and the importance of food equity for her students.
In this episode of Ask A Nutritionist, Bessie O'Connor, RDN, answers the question, "Why Is Nutrition Important for Young Children?"