Everyone eats differently.
I know every homeschooler doesn’t eat identically JUST because they are homeschoolers.
Most homeschoolers have a goal to equip their children’s brains so they can learn and build those neural networks.
Does our typical modern American diet provide that? (M.A.D…modern American diet).
The memoir by Karen Le Billon, French Kids Eat Everything, was an inspiration in my early parenting.
She taught me that most French one year olds have tried more vegetables than most full-grown American adults. If that be the case, how does your childhood home and location influence what you eat? Clearly there’s a connection.
Want to learn more from this lady? An interesting interview here.
Perhaps we are able to influence our children’s preferences and consumption more than we believe.
Insist they eat their greens.
I’m one of those moms. I know my children would survive with prepared chicken fingers and French fries. Or Lipton noodles and cream or microwaved melted cheese on bread. Because I grew up eating like that. But research shows that the benefits of eating broadly increases concentration and other benefits.
I have an empty smoothie glass beside me as I write. Vitamin B complex supplements certainly add zip to my morning wake, but there’s nothing like a glass of fruit and veggies. Add a banana or avocado, or if you have to, protein powder, to thicken the smoothie. Any mixture of fruits and greens will work.
An apple a day.
For one snack a day, get that apple and a handful of nuts for the kids. Teach them that this fruit is easy, quick, and satisfies their tummy. Add a handful of nuts, and it satisfies their tummy longer (train their tongues to be satisfied with natural food too).
Buy them store bought snacks occasionally.
You know, the stuff most kids get as regular school lunches: granola bars, fruit leather, juice boxes, fruit gummies, apple sauces, fruit cocktail, or protein bars. They’re quick, they’re easy but they’re not the best brain food. Having said that, if they get it occasionally, they’re not longing for it either.
Afternoon tea with poetry or read alouds. Homeschooled kids surely learn to drink tea earlier than their North American schooled counterparts. We typically drink herbal, even growing and drying teas from our tea garden, like German chamomile, spearmint, peppermint, anise hyssop. I even harvested rosehips yesterday. It’s a simple homeschool science project too.
I took this hint from Learning How to Learn: How to Succeed in School Without Spending All Your Time Studying; a Guide for Kids and Teens by Barbara Oakley. A reward after 20-25 minutes of focussed math time (which is where I include the store bought snacks above). But after a focussed math stint, I also reward with a twenty minute break to run around with the dog outside, jump on the trampoline, or play an online chess lesson too.
I include candy on Fun Friday with our weekly jeopardy game (their reward instead of thousands of dollars, ha, cause that’s not gonna happen). Really, this jeopardy game is disguised assessment. I want to know what they’re absorbing, and sometimes I want to reinforce facts.
- Like Canadian history: In the Fraser Valley, in 1858, this occurred: “What is the Gold Rush!”
- Like English grammar: Name 6 prepositions: “What are on, about, under, over, in, out.”
- Like Cardiovascular science: Name the three components of blood: “What are erythrocytes, platelets and leukocytes.”
Even a little bit.
- It’s easy to find a small spot in your yard or patio for bean tripods. And you can get a lot of beans from one tripod.
- Do you have space for a fruit tree?
- Raspberry bushes or a strawberry patch?
I studied chicken keeping for years. It’s so much easier to take care of them than I imagined. Again, holy trinity of homeschooling: science experiment, botany study, and food consumption. Our six month old chickens are presently giving us four eggs a day. Yay.
My friend and Registered Dietician, Marianna Dobrovolny, shared this advice on teaching kids healthy eating:
The division of responsibility is this: parents are responsible for what is served and kids are responsible for what to eat. Children are responsible for how much, and if, they eat the food parents serve.
Offer healthy foods.
Your kids like what they like. They don’t have your knowledge and experience to know what they should be eating. So offer them the good stuff on the regular.
Make only one meal.
Include one thing they like for sure ie: bread.
Schedule snack times.
Don’t offer handouts between meals. Keep snacks healthy, like real foods, fruit, nuts, whole grain crackers, or bread, yoghurt, and milk. Not packaged snack foods which tend to be high in salt and cause their tastes to want more salt. Your food will not taste good to them. (Note to self about the prepared snacks, offer them occasionally).
Offer only water to drink between meals.
Avoid sweet drinks that can dull the appetite. (Plus anyway, too much sugar and pricey dental bills.)
Don’t expect kids to eat what you will not eat.
Be a trooper and try new foods. But there’s a reason my children don’t know what a turnip tastes like.
Avoid pressuring and rewarding for eating or trying new foods.
Have main meals together and talk about things. Make eating together a normal thing for your family and regularly offer them nutritious foods.
Avoid distractions such as tv and cell phones (that means parents too).
Be the example you want to see.
Promote a relaxing environment at mealtimes.
Turn the television off, turn on quiet music if you like, light a candle, and expect each person to listen to the others.
Keep offering disliked foods.
Don’t give up. It takes several tries for kids at times to try or like new foods. Sometimes several several.
Let kids help with meal prep, shopping, and gardening.
Saves. You. Time. in the long run.
Teach kids to cook.
Even small kids can wash and spin lettuce. And seriously, it’s so much fun to do this together. A learning opportunity that benefits you in the long run. Teach a kid to cook? You get time to NOT cook.
If you’re in Canada, you can dial 8-1-1 to talk to a Registered Dietician. For free!
(If only I could call them to try and convince my child to eat his fish.)