NewsBack to News 28 January 2015
Increasing parent engagement in school health programs
Parents play a significant role in the development and support of school health and wellbeing programs. Research indicates that engaging parents in their child's school life, including health initiatives, makes it more likely that unhealthy behaviours will be avoided as they grow older.
Successful implementation of the Crunch&Sip and SunSmart Schools programs relies on the support of parents and the community. Parents are in most cases responsible for supplying fruit or vegetables and a water bottle for Crunch&Sip, and a suitable hat and other sun protection for their children.
Parents directly influence the behaviour of their children through their own behaviours and attitudes. For the Crunch&Sip and SunSmart Schools programs, it is important for parents to be role models for healthy eating and sun protection.
In addition, parents can provide input into the development and implementation of health programs and policies. Involving parents in their child's learning reinforces school policies and practices.
Parent involvement occurs along a continuum from occasional participation through to a partnership on issues impacting on their child's learning, health and wellbeing. Schools may need a variety of approaches; one size does not fit all.
Parents and the community need to be informed of their role in school health and the evidence behind these programs. Communication needs to be consistent and on-going with clear expectations as to parents' role. Incorporate health into activities and communications where parental presence is already high. Examples of communication include:
- Newsletter articles.
- Assembly items.
- Notes home.
- Information on enrolment and at school events.
- Links and information on school website and social media pages.
- Posters and displays.
- Providing access to health policies that have been endorsed by the school community.
The Crunch&Sip and SunSmart Schools program messages can be reinforced beyond the classroom to parents and the wider community. Ways to connect these messages include:
- Invite guest speakers for students and / or parents on healthy eating and sun protection.
- Consider promoting health messages at school events, for example host a SunSmart sports carnival or serve only fruit and water at the school disco.
- Set students 'healthy' homework that involve family members, for example, having a Crunch&Sip break after school or wearing a SunSmart hat during family outings on the weekend.
- Incorporate healthy fundraising activities such as selling fruit and vegetable produce after assemblies or hold a sunglasses drive.
- Include sun protective hats, sunscreen and water bottles as compulsory items on the annual booklist.
Parents, carers and community members can play meaningful roles in school decision making and procedures for example:
- Include parent representatives on health and wellbeing committees.
- Ask for feedback when developing or reviewing policies.
- Use volunteers to support health programs e.g. cutting up fruit and vegetables for Crunch&Sip.
- Include questions on health topics in the school survey.
There may be some instances where the parents at your school are unable to provide the support required for the Crunch&Sip and SunSmart Schools programs or they may require more information. Please contact us for assistance. P: (08) 9388 4333 or E: email@example.com