It’s not easy to encourage good eating habits, and even harder in the classroom, where we do not usually eat. As a result, doing extracurricular activities relating to nutrition is normally a priority for primary school teachers: visiting markets, making simple recipes, getting to know the food pyramid…
At the school where I work, the Colegio Sagrada Familia in Madrid, we try to teach children to eat properly, outside the dining hall. This is why we celebrate Health Week every year for the youngest students up to those studying for the baccalaureate, a full week during which activities relating to healthy habits take place during the school day.
“First breakfast, then a great day!” is an activity we do with first cycle primary school students in collaboration with the Pavones Health Centre, organised by the Ministry of Health. Students come to school without having had breakfast, in order to learn how to make a healthy breakfast, guided by two nurses from the health centre who specialise in nutrition.
In the school dining hall, students get together around the table with great anticipation, and hunger, unaccustomed to beginning the school day on an empty stomach. Each student has brought a piece of the fruit which they like the most. Bread and olive oil is already laid out on the table. Before we start to eat, the nurses explain to us the place each of these foods occupy in the food pyramid, the vitamins and nutrients they give us, and how cereal, fruit, dairy and olive oil are essential for their growth.
“The students eat the bread and olive oil breakfast as if they had never eaten before, which is the great breakthrough of the activity, and they comment over and over again throughout the morning on how many slices they all ate, how good they were and how they will have bread and olive oil for breakfast every day”
It only remains to take this healthy habit home, and ensure that it becomes regular practice. To achieve this, we give the students a challenge: to surprise their families next weekend by preparing breakfast, healthy of course, for them all. In which bread and oil is the centrepiece, the elements which no student forgets, as they are the ones which they liked most from the breakfast shared at school. To prove that they have completed this task of passing on good breakfasting habits, the students bring in a photograph of “their” breakfast table,where they have been the ones showing their family how to have a great breakfast, and in order to have a great day!
Ana Municio Zúñiga, Primary School Teacher at Colegio Sagrada Familia School in Madrid