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NO FOOD FOR THOUGHT

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Posthipchick reacts to her school's latest attempt to fight obesity -- "moving away from food as rewards or gifts."

I am obviously not for childhood obesity. I am obviously for eating healthy. But I'm sorry, you are going to feed the students low-grade beef, iceberg lettuce, and processed crap for breakfast and lunch but my mini Tootsie Roll once a month is causing childhood obesity? Puh-lease.
It is bad enough that we cannot bring in homemade treats for students anymore (oy, the liabilities), but now this. I currently use a system in my classroom where classes get daily points for behavior, and then about once per quarter, if they have enough points, they get a pizza party. One slice each. Four times per year. No difference between that and the pizza they get at lunch, but clearly we need to 'move away from this system'. Never mind that I have given one referral all year and discipline in my classroom is not an issue.
One time, when teaching Anne Frank, I asked the principal if I could use the over in the cafeteria to heat up latkes, since my students didn't know what they were. I was going to have a little Hanukkah party. He actually laughed in my face and told me in no uncertain terms that there was no way I could be trusted to use the ovens to REHEAT SOME LATKES. Sure, trust me with your children, but god forbid I use an oven...
I fully understand that school is for education, but think about what YOU remember from school. I remember my 6th grade teacher keeping M&M's on his desk and giving them to us as 'Vitamins'. I remember parents bringing in cupcakes for birthdays. I remember day-before-winter-break doughnuts. Food makes people feel like they are part of a community, and there is a lot that students can learn from eating together.
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I am a middle/junior school teacher, who after 13 years got my masters degree and moved in the the media center. As a teacher I found that food was often a good positive reward for students - but it wasn't something I did every day with a piece of candy, which many elementary teachers (at least at this school) have made it a practice to do. My rewards were popcorn at the end of the 9 weeks and a popsicle midway through for those students who had 2 or less write-ups for discipline in my class. It worked great. However, due to new state guidelines, candy, snacks, and other "non-nutritional" food is not allowed to be given. I certainly understand why, from the point of being concerned about obesity. But I'd hate to be in the classroom now, as it is hard to find positives that you can reward a class for - especially older ones (I used this on 7th and 9th graders alike). At the same time, I am completely thrilled about the change. You see, I have an elementary age daughter who we discovered is "sensitive" to sugar, blue dye #1, and chocolate. When she eats these she can NOT sit still - and it is something she was not aware of. We were told she had ADHD (which she didn't) and put her on meds for awhile. But I never really saw the symptoms in her on a regular basis; however, I did notice that she acted worse at different times. I began to pursue my own suspicions and made the discovery about the sugar and stuff. With some strict modifications to her diet (and other interventions), we were able to get her off the meds and out of trouble with the teacher and saw her grades improve dramatically. For that reason, I am happy to see that candy rewards can no longer be given at school. That was a constant source of trouble with us, as she was either sneaking it from the teacher's desk or feeling left out when the other kids got it - even though I provided sugar free alternatives. Thankfully, I no longer have that to worry about. Personally, I wonder how many other kids lableled ADHD have the same problem my child had and their parents/teachers don't know it. They just trust the doctors and put them on drugs - how sad. So where do I stand? I don't know. I don't think kids need to be given sweets on a daily basis, but I think that as teachers we need something to reward the students that they will respond to. And I think that more parents of ADHD children need to "look deeper" for answers. A solution to the problems our children face are out there, but as parents we can't leave it to the teachers, or doctors, or legislatures, or anyone else to solve them. We have to take an active role in our children's lives and educate ourselves so that we, the ones who know them best, can help them.

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