The primary grades are an excellent time to introduce students to ways of keeping their bodies strong and healthy. At this age, children are almost ready to take responsibility for their health and can understand the importance of eating three meals a day, eating nutritious foods, getting exercise each day, getting enough sleep each night, and wearing helmets and other protective gear when biking, riding a scooter, and roller-blading. What students may not yet be aware of is how these practices work to protect their brain as well as their body. For example, eating healthy foods provides fuel so children can concentrate at school and think more clearly. Exercising gives people a fit body, as well as releases brain chemicals that make people feel good. Finally, wearing a helmet while biking and doing other sports protects our precious brain.
During today’s mission, students will compile a class list of healthy habits and then keep track of what they actually do during the course of a week. By the end of the mission, students will have an understanding of what they need to do to improve their habits to keep both their bodies and brains healthy and fit.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has established guidelines for how much sleep growing children need each night, what is considered a healthy diet, and how much exercise children should get each day. Recommendations for children 5 to 7 years of age are:
- 9 to 10 hours of sleep each night.
- At least 30 minutes of physical activity each day.
About 1,500 calories (this varies with the age and weight of the child) each day of foods from each of the food groups:
- 25 percent of total calories from proteins;
- 30 percent from fat, primarily mono- and poly-unsaturated fats; and
- 45 percent from carbohydrates, with emphasis on whole-grain foods, fruits, and vegetables.