Healthy Childhood Initiative
At Friends, we have created the Healthy Childhood Initiative to emphasize our commitment to the healthy physical growth and development of the children.
Childhood obesity is a serious problem in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 17% of children and adolescents ages 2-19 are obese. But the good news is that the obesity rate for children ages 2-5 decreased significantly from 2003 to 2012. That means it is possible to make a difference by promoting exercise and good nutrition!
Movement & Exercise
Here at Friends, two outdoor play times are scheduled every single day, weather permitting. Our 6 playgrounds guarantee that every class has ample time and space for the children to run and play.
A brief break throughout the day helps children stay active physically, and it also helps them focus on other tasks. Preschool teachers incorporate what’s called Heavy Work activities that release excessive energy and help decrease over-stimulation. Examples are jumping jacks, running in place, floor or wall push-ups, hopping, and pulling on stretchy bands or even socks. Behavior specialists say that Heavy Work activities help everyone and hurt no one.
Cross-lateral brain development, or crossing the midline between the two sides of the brain, doesn’t happen at birth. But it is essential for reading and writing. Children must be able to move one part of the body – hand, foot, eye – into the space of the other hand, foot, or eye. There are many simple ways to do this, mostly through songs and chants. Even one Brain Break a day speeds this process along!
We have a commercial kitchen on site, where nutritious breakfast, lunch, and snacks are prepared daily for the children. This provides the children with the energy they need to get through the day. Through spontaneous, positive conversation at the lunch tables, children are encouraged to taste all the food on their plates. We do not force the children to clean their plates, but instead we encourage them to taste foods that are unfamiliar to them.
Going above and beyond for your children: We are enrolled in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), which is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This program provides aid for child and adult care institutions for the provision of nutritious foods that contribute to wellness and healthy growth and development. Through CACFP, more than 3.3 million children and 120,000 adults receive nutritious meals and snacks as part of the daily care they receive. In addition, the state of Indiana has requirements for the food served at all licensed childcare centers. Much of the time, we surpass all guidelines by providing a healthier menu than required by either the state or CACFP. For example, we serve more whole grains, fewer desserts, and less juice than either program requires.