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Healthy Sprouts is a parent/child interactive preschool class for families with children ages 2 ½ to 5 (younger siblings welcome!)
What will your family learn at this class?
Each class has a theme, which shapes all of the class elements including circle time with stories and songs, outdoor play, arts and crafts projects, parent discussion, developing kindergarten readiness skills, and cooking a healthy and kid-friendly meal with your child. Sample class themes include Importance of Movement, Adventurous Eaters and Picky Eaters, Sweets, Treats and Sugars and Importance of Sleep.
More Information about Healthy Sprouts:
Healthy Sprouts is a unique combination of a parent support group, parent/child interaction learning and nutrition education program for low-income families. It is offered at no cost during the school year.
We are using a family-centered and strength-based approach that incorporates the whole family in this educational experience. We believe that our approach (1) acknowledges the joys and challenges of parenthood, (2) focuses on the strength and positive experience families already have (instead of on their weaknesses), (3) recognizes the important role families have in the growth and development of their children, (4) teaches parents to be role models for their children, (5) views lack of certain behavioral and emotional skills as an opportunity to learn (as opposed to a problem), (6) engages parents and the children in joint activities that build on the strengths of the family, (7) empowers families to be active caretakers of their children, and (8) builds trusting and affirming relationships between family members.
Parents are faced with many decisions that influence the health, eating habits, and emotional and social development of their children. Low-income parents are particularly challenged due to financial stressors, lack of neighborhood support and affordable childcare. The first objective of Healthy Sprouts is to support families in helping their children get ready for kindergarten. To accomplish this objective, Healthy Sprouts will focus on the following Kindergarten Readiness skills: (1) physical readiness such as throwing a ball, running, or jumping; (2) language skills such as speaking in complete sentences and following simple directions; (3) self-control strategies such as understanding feelings and being able to name them; (4) social skills such as appropriate interactions with other children and adjusting to new situations without a parent; (5) and interest in new learning experiences such as playing a new game or listening to a story and asking questions about it.
The second objective of Healthy Sprouts is cooking and nutrition education for the families. Parents will increase their knowledge about healthful eating. They will learn about (1) the health benefits of eating fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole foods; (2) how to incorporate fresh produce into their daily meals; (3) how to plan and prepare nutritious and affordable meals; (4) how to involve children in meal planning and cooking; (5) positive interactions with their children during mealtimes; and (6) the value of eating a meal together as a family.
In order to tailor Healthy Sprouts to the needs of particpating families, our nutrition educator will meet with each registered family in their home before the session starts. This visit will allow our nutrition educator to get to know the familiy, assess their living situation, their strengths and needs, and their commitment to particpate in our free program. Our nutrition educator will also offer in-home visits for all the families during the school year
Why are we offering Healthy Sprouts
Overweight and obesity rates in the Unites States are among the highest in the world, affecting two-thirds of adults and one-third of youth, with a disproportionate grip on minorities. According to recent national data, one in eight (12%) preschool-aged children is overweight or obese (CDC Vital Signs).
Experts agree that early childhood is a critical period to form healthy lifestyle habits and, therefore, presents itself as an important target for healthy eating and physical activity interventions. Studies have shown that dietary habits and preferences for food established during childhood persist into adulthood. The White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity Report offers intervention directives targeting at-risk ethnic populations and low-income communities. Among these directives are (1) culturally appropriate interventions, (2) promoting healthy nutrition and physical activity, and (3) empowering parents to teach their children lifelong healthy behaviors. 2
Children may be old enough to enter kindergarten but are developmentally not ready. Kindergarten marks the start of a child’s formal education and may influence a child’s success in school and the way a child relates to others for the rest of life. Success or failure at this stage may affect a child’s well-being, self-esteem, and motivation. Many factors impact a child’s ability to learn and increase his/her of problems in school such as poverty, low parental education, speech defects or delayed speech, behavioral concerns such as hyperactivity, low birth weight, or exposure to household smoking.3
2 Melinda S. Bender et al. A Culturally Appropriate Intervention to Improve Health Behaviors in Hispanic Mother-Child Dyads. Childhood Obesity. April 2013; 9, 2: 157-163.
3 Mayo Clinic. Kindergarten readiness: Is your child ready for school? 2010.