Updated: Oct 21, 2021
Health Education for children is an important issue, and you can get involved, and learn more this week! According to the Society for Public Health Education, "Since 1995, the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) has celebrated National Health Education Week (NHEW), (initially in collaboration with the Department of Health and Human Services), during the third week of October.
NHEW is focused on increasing national awareness of major public health issues and promoting a better understanding of the role of health education."
There is a daily theme each day during National Public Health Education Week, and you can sign up for different web trainings each day to learn more. You can register for the events here.
Monday, October 18 | Facing New Challenges: Back to School in 2021
Activity: Webinar – COVID-19 Classroom Chat: RE-Adapting to the Classroom in 2021
Tuesday, October 19 | Exploring Careers in Health Education
Activity: Webinar – How to Promote Your Health Education Skills for Careers in the Field
Wednesday, October 20 | Looking at Diversity Through Accessibility
Activity: Presenting Accessibility for an In-Person and Online Audience
Thursday, October 21 | What We Should Know About the Future of Health Literacy
Activity: Healthy People 2030: Health Literacy
Friday, October 22 | Mental Health in the Workplace
Activity: Webinar – Navigating Workplace Mental Health Amidst COVID-19
As you can see, there is a wide range of topics, that is geared towards different types of audiences. Some of the topics this year deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and it's effects on the health of everyone in our society.
What is Health Education?
Public Health Education is education about health issues facing our society. Improving our health can improve our quality of life in many ways, bringing these issues to everyone's attention can improve health and happiness for all.
According to SOPHE, "Health education:
Improves the health status of individuals, communities, states, and the nation
Enhances the quality of life for all people
Reduces costly premature deaths and disability.
Health education focused on prevention reduces the financial and human costs spent on medical treatment.
Chronic conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, consume more than 75 percent of the $2.2 trillion spent on health care in the United States each year – the equivalent of about 2.5 economic “bailout” packages (CDC, 2013).
Spending as little as $10 per person on proven preventive interventions could save the country over $16 billion in just five years (RWJF, 2008).
Health literacy is a large determinant of health status and without these components offered by health education specialists, members in each community can be greatly affected."
I'm sure you have heard that old saying, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." That is true for many health issues that we face as individuals, parents, and throughout society as a whole. Teaching kids about healthy behaviors from a young age can improve their outcomes throughout their lifetime.
Health Education for Kids.
As parents, we are are children's first teachers when it comes to their health. There are many ways that we can model good health behaviors for our kids at home, and when we go out. Since kids are always watching what we do, we have many opportunities to teach them about good health every day.
Kids can also learn about proper health when they go to visit the pediatrician. They will learn how their bodies are growing and changing at various stages of development.
They can also get vision and hearing screenings. In addition to the pediatrician, it is also important to take kids to the dentist, to keep their teeth in good health, and to the eye doctor for regular examinations. Finding problems early can help to keep them from getting worse later on.
According to NVISION, "It is important to take kids to the eye doctor regularly. Children should have their first eye exam between 6 and 12 months old, and they should have regular eye exams throughout their lives." This will allow you to find any vision problems, so that children can start to wear glasses early, if needed. Vision problems can effect a child's learning, so this is very important to notice early on.
Children should also go to the dentist starting at about 3 years old, according to my dentist. That way they can learn good dental care at an early age, and help to avoid cavities and fillings later on.
When kids get a little older, they will learn about good health behaviors at school as well. They learn things like proper hand washing, healthy eating, and sometimes even the importance of tooth brushing.
In middle school and high school, kids will learn about sex education, as well as the harm that drugs can do their growing minds and bodies. When it comes to our child's health, schools can be a partner in their education, but it is important to reinforce the things that they are learning in school at home.
Teaching Basic Health Behaviors.
Some of the first, and most basic, health behaviors we can teach our kids are the importance of handwashing, tooth brushing, and regular bathing. While we do this, we can teach them about germs too, in an age-appropriate way. Additionally, we can teach our kids the importance of good nutrition, exercise and taking vitamins. When we build things into our day as a regular routine, these things will become healthy habits that can last kids a lifetime.
Teaching kids to wash their hands regularly is one of the first health behaviors that we can teach them. For tutorials that you and your kids can work through (including video!) you can check out Kids Health.
Brushing kids teeth is also easy to build into their daily routine, both at bedtime and after meals. Even before your child has teeth, you can wipe off their gums with a wet cloth at bedtime, to make sure there aren't any food scraps stuck to their gums. Starting early ensures that your child will think of tooth brushing as a normal part of their routine, and not be afraid of the toothbrush or the dentist. There are many fun children's toothbrushes and toothpastes as well, with many favorite cartoon characters.
Bath time can be fun and relaxing for most kids as well. Once they are old enough to sit up unassisted, you can let them experiment with bubble bath, bath bombs or bath paint. That makes their bath time fun, in addition to making sure that they are clean and germ-free.
For some basic kids nutrition, you can start with being sure that kids have a vegetable or fruit with every meal. Since there are so many to choose from, you can experiment with different vegetables and fruits at each meal until you find some that your kids like. You can also add some fruits and vegetables to their snacks by making pumpkin, banana or zuccini muffins for them to try.
Exercise typically comes easy to our kids, because they love to run around outside. As they get a little older, you can add sports to their repitore, in addition to going to the playground or riding a bike. Small kids can participate in sports like swimming or gymnastics from as young as 6 months old, and as they get into the preschool years, they can get into soccer, martial arts, and so much more. Again, there are many sports to choose from, and you can let your child try different ones until they find something that they like.
If you struggle with getting your young children to wash their hands, brush their teeth or take a bath, there are many educational children's videos that teach these habits. You can check out Cocomelon, Baby Bus, Blippi, and Ryan's World, just to name a few. All of them have videos about these basic health habits, to teach children the importance of caring for their health as part of a daily routine.
National Health Education Week is a great opportunity to take some learning opportunities for yourself and your kids. You can attend organized trainings, watch videos, read articles, and decide how to incorporate good health behaviors into your and your child's routine.
It is important to remember that children mirror our habits in many ways. The healthier our own lifestyle is, the easier it is to incorporate good health into our children's lives as well. If you haven't had the healthiest choices in the past, not to worry though. You can always commit to start today, and work toward a healthier life for yourself and your child.
To read more about good health behaviors, check out my other articles.
Let me know in the comments what you think about National Health Education Week, and if there are additional good health topics that you would like me to cover in the future.
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