When students arrive at you after-school program what can they expect? Can they expect to be greeted with a smile, a knuckle bump, a question about the new kitten, a snack, a warm and friendly Program Leader? When kids first arrive in your program you have an opportunity to set the tone for the next 3 or more hours. When your behavior says that you are glad that they are here you have gone a long way to put them at ease. Think about how you feel when you go somewhere that a group of people have either already gathered or are gathering at that moment. What is it that you would like to have happen? Do you want someone to say “hello” and use your name? Do you want someone to say, “Thanks for coming” or “Glad you came”. Would you like them to follow-up with a comment or compliment that is specific to you, such as “Like your hair cut”, or “Heard you have a new car.”? If these are the kind of things that you would like to hear, then chances are, kids would like to hear similar types of comments. When students arrive, for a brief moment each one needs to know that you are completely focused on them. It doesn’t have to be a long interaction, it just needs to be heartfelt and sincere. Try out different ways to greet students and let them know that you are glad to see them and have them in the program and that you are looking forward to the next 3 hours.
Not so usual celebrations…
July 21st is National Junk Food Day. Junk Food translates into a lot of really amazing, not so good-for-you, items that you love eating. To be an official holiday would take an Act of Congress, literally, but celebrating your favorite type of junk food just takes a few moments to think about what you would eat if health, calories, and fat were not a concern. Junk Food has been defined by those in the know (dieticians and doctors—sometimes your mom) as food that contains little to no nutritional value. These foods are high in fat, salt, sugar and probably make up the majority of our Top 10 Things I Love to Eat list. So, perhaps National Junk Food Day is a time when you can eat these tasty, yet not so good for you foods with NO GUILT! As a reminder, junk food can certainly be hazardous to your health, so eat it only sparingly.
Activities for Kids
Spend time with youth talking about healthy eating habits and how selecting the healthy foods from the Food Pyramid is the best choice. Have them cut out pictures of food from magazines and categorize them into Pyramid groupings. You can find a copy of the Food Pyramid by Googling images of the Food Pyramid for Kids.