Education on Healthy Eating is Important
Childhood Obesity is an epidemic affecting children of all ages. But poor nutrition doesn’t only appear as excess body weight. Bedwetting, chronic, constipation, difficulty paying attention, anxiety and exhaustion can all have roots in poor eating habits.
So often parents are not sure how to overcome picky eating often exhibited in toddler and early preschool age and children can easily fall into eating only the usual “kid-friendly foods” which are low in nutrients, but high in fat, salt and sugar.
But what if there is a better way? What if we can introduce preschoolers to the deliciousness of fresh fruits and vegetables and get them excited about preparing healthy snacks and entrees themselves in the classroom? And what if that excited preschooler takes this new knowledge and skill home, encouraging his or her family to try new foods and cook together?
How it works
Doctor Yum’s Preschool Food Adventure is an interactive curriculum designed to introduce preschoolers to the joy eating fruits and vegetables! This curriculum was written by Nimali Fernando , MD, MPH, (“Doctor Yum”) a Virginia pediatrician and founder of the nonprofit “The Doctor Yum Project,” and Melanie Potock, MA, CCC-SLP (“Coach Mel), a certified speech language pathologist specialized in pediatric feeding, and owner of My Munch Bug.
The interactive curriculum features 18 lessons (which can be presented over two years) presented by preschool teachers once a month. Using the fun characters, Doctor Yum, Coach Mel and My Munch Bug, each lesson presents a seasonal fruit or vegetable, explains their nutritional benefits to preschoolers, and guides them through preparation of a simple snack using the featured item. Preschoolers learn life skills like pouring and cutting inspired by Montessori teaching methods. Lessons are designed to tap into preschoolers newly emerging academic and developmental skills, like language, numbers and fine motor skills and apply them to ideas about healthy eating. Teachers are provided materials with helpful tips and ideas on how to engage preschoolers in a healthy diet. Also included is valuable information from Coach Mel on overcoming some of the challenges presented by selective eaters, with fun ideas which can be applied to all types of preschoolers. Doctor Yum and Coach Mel are also co-authors of the book, Raising a Healthy, Happy Eater: A Parent’s Handbook. Artwork and layouts were designed by Fredericksburg, VA artist Ashleigh Buyers. This September we started our fifth school year with 19 schools and Head Start joining the Adventure!!
Link to Training video for teachers who join later in the year
Curriculum binder with 18 monthly lessons
Circle time visuals for use in the classroom
Parent Manual (English and Spanish)
Parent feedback sheets for each lesson (English and Spanish)
Monthly e-letters for teachers and parent
“Dancing in the Kitchen” Music Download Card
EZ-PZ Happy Mat to present foods at circle time
Kuhn Rikon kid safe dog knives
Funbites for cutting food into fun shapes
“Broc and Cara’s Picnic Party” kids book on healthy eating
“Kids Book Growing Food” gardening book for the classroom
Class Party Toolbox ideas for healthy class parties with recipes
Why it works
This one-of-a-kind curriculum works because it was written by two experts who understand how preschoolers become picky eaters and how to prevent picky eating with a joyful approach. Unique to this curriculum is a parent education module with parent education materials, monthly feedback sheets with recipes and a monthly newsletter to give parents the language and approach to continue the education at home. The curriculum is designed for kids of all abilities and has had particularly impressive results in classrooms focused on children with special needs. Results show that parental attitudes and behaviors about healthy eating at home improve after using the curriculum. Leading Duke University researchers are now doing a more in-depth study of effect of the curriculum on children’s eating habits in the classroom and at home.