Homeschooling Health

a pink coloured bathroom sink
a pink coloured bathroom sink

No one tells you when you send your children to school that your child’s health will not be one of the school’s priorities.  Actually, I would venture to say it will not even be on the school’s list of what is important to teach our children.

When my kids were preschool age we were often at a park near a public elementary school.  We would be playing at the park when the kids got out of school, and many would run to the park with their parents to play as well.  Almost every day the kids came to the park with a bag of candy.  I was shocked to think that parents were sending their kids to school every day with a bag of sugar.  I felt sad for the teachers who had to cope with kids that were sugared up.  One day I had a conversation with a couple of the parents as they were standing around while their kids played.  They brought up their frustration with all the candy their kids were given in school. So I realized I was wrong, the parents were not sending them with the candy.  They said there always seemed to be a birthday of one of the students, or a special celebration, or sweet treats as rewards for a good score and/or good behavior.  They had talked with their teacher about their concerns, but had had no success.

I am not a believer in feeding children refined sugar.  I did everything I could to feed my boys healthy, wholesome food.  Candy was not part of their daily diet.  Of course they weren’t totally sugar free.  There was the occasional birthday party and Easter celebration that gave them a few sweet treats.  But even then, I focused more on naturally sweetened goodies or home baked deserts sweetened with honey or maple sugar.  But on a daily basis their diet was definitely void of chocolate and store bought candy. Research suggests that sugar negatively affects our immune system.  WebMD (http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/10-immune-system-busters-boosters ) will tell you that “eating or drinking too much sugar curbs immune system cells that attack bacteria. This effect lasts for at least a few hours after downing sugary drinks.”  Actually, I think it should be taught by schools and part of common knowledge that sugar affects the immune system and one’s ability to fight off the latest cold or flu going around.  Why are schools not teaching this simple lesson in their classrooms?

I believe one of the most important subjects to teach our children is nutrition from day one and the part that our food choices play in staying healthy. Seeing all the candy being given to children in schools was not the first reason I decided to homeschool. But to be honest, it was part of my decision.

Most Americans are now aware that the obesity rate in our country is growing at an alarming rate. Found on A Healthier America website, “Researchers have estimated that 16.9 percent of children and adolescents ages 2 to 9 are obese, and 31.7 percent are overweight. This translates to more than 12 million children and adolescents who are obese, and more than 23 million who are overweight.” http://ahealthieramerica.org/resources/facts/ That should be enough to scare any parent into teaching their children about good nutrition. Why are the schools not a part of the solution?

There is another story that sticks out in my mind in regards to schools’ care for a student’s health. This is an isolated story, meaning I don’t think every school or teacher has this “program”.  But it is an example of what has happened in one classroom.

Shortly after beginning to homeschool, a friend came to me for advice.  She knew I loved all things associated with natural health. Her son, who was in public school, was having terrible stomach pains every day. I suggested she ask him lots of questions about his day, maybe even about things that would seem unrelated. What she discovered was that after recess and lunch the teacher had a problem with students needing to use the bathroom during class time. So the teacher created a reward system. Each child started the week with a certain number of points. Every time a child used the bathroom at any time besides recess and lunch the teacher took a certain number of points away from that student. At the end of the week she went through the points in front of the whole class and if you kept all your points you received an award or prize.

How did this relate to my friend’s son? Well, he would eat lunch every day and about one hour later his body would tell him he needed to have a bowel movement. This is a natural thing for his body. It is his daily rhythm. Because of the points system he was embarrassed on having to use points each day to use the bathroom, so instead he decided not to use the bathroom. Thus he was getting backed up and was experiencing severe “stomach aches”.  Most likely the pain was in is intestines.

When I heard about the point system I was furious.  A teacher is rewarding children for ignoring their bodies! In my opinion this is the fastest way to a more serious health issue. Where is the common sense or the understanding of physical health and wellbeing in this point system? I would much rather have my kids be able to use the bathroom any time of day when they feel they need to. I trust they know their body best and will know when they need to go to the bathroom.  This teacher was rewarding what I consider to be the opposite of what I wanted to teach my children. I want them to know their body and how it works. You only get one body to take care of and creating and keeping good health is a lifelong pursuit. Not to mention plenty of evidence shows that holding in your urine can cause bladder infections besides other ailments. In an article by Atri Patel titled Holding Your Pee: Health Risks From Ignoring Natures Call, Atri quotes Dr. Bali, “The longer you hold your urine, the bladder can become a breeding ground for bacteria to grow.” The article goes on to say that this bacteria can lead to infections, which can spread to kidneys and cause greater damage to the body.  http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/02/27/holding-your-pee-health-_n_1299435.html This teacher’s reward system definitely rewards children for holding in their pee and not using the bathroom.

Homeschooling is such a great alternative, gives children the freedom to use the bathroom any time they choose. With this freedom children learn and are encouraged to listen to their own body and when nature calls they can respond without worry of repercussions. If you are already homeschooling, then your children already have this freedom, if you are not, something to think about.

“The greatest wealth is health.”  – Virgil

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