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health + wellness

At Prairie Creek we take an active, preventive approach to our students achieving lifelong health—including physical, psychological, and social health. We recognize and value the whole person when it comes to wellness. Teachers, students, and parents join together in learning how to make deliberate, wise choices toward more successful health.

We do this through our
school lunch program, physical education and health education programs, daily physical activities, farm-to-table lessons, social curriculum, our standing Wellness Committee, healthy food options at meetings and gatherings, health-conscious school policies, and environmental education.

(For recommendations and school policies when it comes to students getting sick, attendance, germs and bugs, allergies, medicine, vaccines, and other health matters, please consult our attendance policies or contact our office.)  

Best practice for staying well at school and home

Wash hands

Encourage children to wash their hands after coughing, sneezing, blowing their nose, and using the restroom, before they eat and snack, after they handle animals, after outdoor activity, and whenever they seem dirty.

Make it count

Use the proper technique when children wash their hands: first wet the hands thoroughly with warm water, then use enough soap to create a good lather and rub the hands vigorously for 20 seconds. Rinse, dry, and turn off the faucet with the towel. To keep kids scrubbing for a sufficient amount of time, have them sing “Happy Birthday” or recite the alphabet.

Clip away germs
Keep children’s fingernails clean and trimmed. Germs hide under nails. If kids scratch their skin with dirty, long nails, they may develop an infection.

Clean hands on the go
When kids wash their hands, soap and water is best. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are very useful when there’s no access to running water, such as in the car, on the playground, and in the classroom.
Aim for the elbow

By sneezing or coughing into an elbow, kids minimize the spreading of germs to other surfaces. Since an elbow is less likely than a child’s hand to come into contact with other objects, fewer areas become contaminated. It’s best to teach kids not to cover their coughs and sneezes with their hands, but rather to aim for their elbows!

Don’t share the stuff
It’s also wise to teach kids to avoid sharing personal items at school—including drinks, food, utensils, combs and brushes, and hats (head lice travels fast!)  

Best links for staying well at school and beyond

Give Kids a Smile Program

Kids need a good breakfast
Kids should have a water bottle to school

Kids want to move, both indoors and out

Kids should stay home when they're sick

Parent tips

"My kids seem to do better when we have a snack after school and then some outdoor play time before they practice piano or start on homework. We keep screen time to a minimum."

"I make sure my kids are really well before I send them back to school. Another day at home resting and healing never hurts. That way they don't spread whatever it is to other kids and they don't have a relapse from going back to soon."

"When cold and flu season is about to begin, we review good procedures at our house. How to sneeze in your elbow, how to blow into a Kleenex and then wash your hands, talking about how hands should stay out of eyes, mouth, nose, and all that stuff."

"On weekends we make sure that at least some of our activities include fun, physical activity. In the winter we sled down Old Main [on St. Olaf campus] or make forts or ice skate. In spring and fall we hike, bike, rake, anything. But doing it together and following up with a good snack makes it a positive time for everyone."

"When I know what time the bus picks up, I figure out how long my daughter will need to get ready, then I count back ten hours from there and decide what bedtime should be. Then I know she'll get all the sleep she needs. Then I add another half hour onto that to see when we need to start the bedtime routine. If I stay consistent it's easier. She knows if she gets ready on time then we can snuggle and have reading time before I turn out the lights. I think I love our bedtime routine as much as she does! It's such a calm and bonding end to the day."  

Wellness Committee

As part of the No Child Left Behind mandates of 2004, federal law requires that local school districts participating in the National School Lunch Program (which Prairie Creek does) develop wellness policies that promote student health and address the epidemic of childhood obesity.

Prairie Creek is right now translating this directive into action—by organizing a standing Wellness Committee that will put into place simple, progressive health principles, practices, and lessons for use at school. It’s our belief that a well-suited Prairie Creek wellness program will set good guidelines and suggestions for nutrition (for both school lunches and those packed from home), physical activity inside the building and in our big backyard, and curriculum that fosters our students’ fitness. This endeavor will rely on the creative dedication of parents, students, teachers, trustees, and community members coming together to set a comprehensive vision for schoolwide wellness at Prairie Creek.

If you’re interested in serving on Prairie Creek’s Wellness Committee, please contact the office. We welcome you to this work!

Physical Education at Prairie Creek

“If I could make any changes at all to the current health care system, you know I would start with education, education, education. You can't educate people that are not healthy. But you certainly can't keep them healthy if they're not educated.” Dr. Joycelyn Elders, Former Surgeon General of the United States

All students benefit from regular physical activity, and it’s an important part of our students’ daily routine. We promote lifelong fitness by teaching a variety of activities to increase students’ comfort, confidence, and self-expression—in competitive (soccer, capture the flag, relay races) and non-competitive (freeze tag, sharks + minnows) team games and sports, as well as individual activities (cross-country skiing, ropes courses, bars and rings).

Watch a ski video!

We use the national physical education standards to develop students who have the knowledge, skills, and confidence to enjoy a lifetime of healthful physical activity. These standards provide a good framework for doing this.

A physically educated person:

-Shows competency in forms of movement, and proficiency in a few
-Applies movement concepts and principles to the development of motor skills
-Exhibits a physically active lifestyle
-Maintains a healthy level of physical fitness
-Shows responsible personal and social behavior in physical activity settings
-Understands and respects differences among people in physical activity settings
-Is aware that physical activity offers enjoyment and challenge, and leads to self-expression and social interaction

Prairie Creekers enjoy engaging physical activity every day—including recess, physical education classes, yoga breaks, on-the-go learning games, and movement instruction. For this students need sustained energy: the school lunch program emphasizes healthy eating options, with fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, hearty soups, and hormone-free milk at every lunch.

As part of Prairie Creek's social curricula each classroom conducts a Morning Meeting during which children greet one another and practice discussion skills including topics like healthy choices, peer pressure, nutrition, friendships, stress, work/play balance, goal setting, and conflict mediation. This is in addition to the social curricula we practice all year long at Prairie Creek. 

Health Education at Prairie Creek

“It is the growing belief that any future advances made in improving the nation’s health will not result from spectacular biomedical breakthroughs. Rather, advances will result from personally initiated actions that are directly influenced by the individual’s health-related attitudes, beliefs, and knowledge. School health education can make a valuable contribution in areas such as these and can play an important role in improving the quality of living.” —American Medical Association

Health education in schools teaches students knowledge and skills to promote their own health. As a progressive school, Prairie Creek values real-life and whole-self learning—in math, in reading, in science, and in wellness. Our students practice good health every day as part of their formal education; our faculty designs useful, fun physical-fitness lessons with the understanding that habits learned early on will spell good health for a lifetime.

We use the national health education standards as a framework. By these principles, students who’ve been well instructed about their health will:

-Understand health promotion and disease prevention concepts and practices
-Show the ability to get valid health information, products, and services
-Practice health-enhancing behaviors and reduce their health risks
-Analyze the influence of culture, media, and technology on their health
-Communicate well about their health and fitness
-Set goals and make wise choices to better their own health
-Advocate for their own, their families’, and their communities’ health