Overlooked Perk of Homeschooling

It hit me a few days ago when I was trying to get my kids to eat broccoli and I was trying to explain to them that, when cooked right, broccoli still has just a bit of crunch…. that it isn’t supposed to smear when you try to cut it. 

Health is a big thing for me because it is very important for growing minds.  But it got me really got thinking about how much our homeschooling decision affects the kids health.  I decided to compare it to the Newstart program which I have always really respected and have also used to teach my kids health.  This is what I came up with.  Some offer only a slight difference while others offer a huge benefit.

N=Nutrition 

This, I believe is hugely different in a home school setting.  Sure there are great mothers who pack super healthy lunches and home school moms that don’t cook healthy, but for the most part kids at home are eating home cooked, fresh cooked, balanced meals.  It is just easier to do at home.  Taking a healthy lunch is hard to start with, and then there is ‘peer pressure’ or ‘lunch envy’ for the kids who get the most ‘junk’ in their lunch.  What is served at ‘hot’ school lunches can qualify for ‘warm’ (hopefully) food, but it is far from healthy, nutritious, or fresh. 

But that is just the obvious lunch problem.  There is breakfast, the most important meal of the day, that at home can be unhurried and balanced when kids are rushing out the door.  I have worked hard at cooking full breakfasts for the kids.  Sometimes it isn’t ready soon enough to get it in before our school starts at 7:15, but we can break for it at 7:45 and still have a full meal without being rushed. 

Snacks are also great.   Kids just function and think better when they aren’t hungry and we have a morning snack every day (sometimes an afternoon one, but the morning seems the most important).  For snack we usually cut up fruit or pop popcorn, but just having the kitchen close makes it easier to find something fresh and healthy.  My poor son goes through growth spurts that have him eating tones and still begging for food almost every hour.  At home there is always something on hand as well as time to stop and ‘re-fuel’.

Funny side note:  When I started homeschooling Lily at 5 I asked her what she thought of home school.  She answered “Oh mom, I love it.  At school we only got one snack (referring to pre-school) at home I get TWO snacks”  

Kids can’t think or learn hungry, or sugared up… They also can’t learn as well if they are missing vitamins or nutrients from an over processed, over stored, and over cooked diet.    This is not some great feet for a home schooling family, or that other families are mistreating their kids, it is just easier to eat nutritious at home.

E=Exercise

This probably is very different per school and per home school, but we try and make exercise really important in our day.  We have gone for a 2 mile walk, played at 2 different parks for a total of at least 3 hours, and gone swimming 3 times this week for a total of at least 4 hours.  Kids need to move.  I was super proud my kids both hiked the Grand Canyon this summer (ages 7 and 4). 

This is something families can easily still do when the kids aren’t at school, but I do believe home school makes it easier because of scheduling flexibility. 

 W=Water

This is simple, but super important.  I don’t know how the schools do it, but my kids have a cup of water at both their desks when they are working and drink regularly through the day. 

Got carried away with this post so I am breaking it into two parts.  Stay tuned for part 2 next friday! 

As I am getting ready to actually post this ‘part 1′ both kids have seemed to develop a fever…. they didn’t get the memo :)

The Cheapest, Simplest, Substance to Get Past My Lips

I wanted to start out with the simplest and foundational substance–Water. Most people have heard that humans need to drink ‘8 glass a day’. It is clearly the cheapest, simplest and undeniably the healthiest liquid ,we can find.

The body is estimated to be about 60 to 70 percent water. Blood is mostly water, and your muscles, lungs, and brain all contain a lot of water. Your body needs water to regulate body temperature and to provide the means for nutrients to travel to all your organs. Water also transports oxygen to your cells, removes waste, and protects your joints and organs.” Source

Why do we need to drink water?

Instead of addressing the need for water in more detail, I wanted to write about why is it so hard to get our water and how to get more? I believe a big reason is because we have so many other drinks. If someone already has drinks with most meals and drinks between meals they aren’t near as thirsty and don’t think of drinking water. So, I would propose drinking only water. With drinking only water, one not only gets the health benefits they also benefit from the following:

1. It is the best drink for kids! What other drink can they get for themselves, drink all they want, drink from old cups (ever found sippy cups of milk under the couch… not healthy), drink anywhere in the house or car or while wearing their best cloths, cleans their teeth and doesn‘t make them hyper? Speaks for itself. If given the choice most kids don’t choose water, but if it is the only choice they soon get used to it. If you are only drinking water and there isn’t other options around they can probably get used to it even faster than most adults.

2. Avoiding hidden calories-Depending on the drink there can be 10 to 1000+ calories per cup. Even if you are only getting 100 calories from drinks per day that adds up to more than 10 pounds a year! Not only that, it often has no nutritional value. I think this is a major cause of weight issues.

For example: a cup of apple juice (from frozen concentrate) is 112 calories (source) where 1 cup (or about 1 whole) raw apple is only 65 calories (source) and fills the stomach and lasts longer.

3. Avoiding added ‘non-foods’-drinks are a crazy place for added colors, heavily processed sugars, flavorings… I could go on but you get the idea. Even  fruit juices have preservatives that your body doesn’t need.

Should it be bottled?

There is arguments all over the place with bottled or not. The truth is that lots (I have heard up to 2/3rds) of bottled water is just tap water put into bottles and then sold for an incredible mark up. There might be an argument for higher end bottled water, but for the most part, bottled water isn’t any healthier than my own tap water. If I get stuck thirsty somewhere, and don’t have my refillable bottles with me, I buy water because it is the healthiest choice to buy. If I can get tap water… I don’t spend for bottled. There is also a very real argument against all the bottles creating a strain in production and disposal on the environment.

However, tap water isn’t always perfect and a good filter system hooked to the tap or filter pitchers are the best!

What if water just doesn’t taste good?

Fresh lemon juice is great to add to water. Or as I read in ‘The Cure Heal Your Body, Save Your Life’ by Dr. Timothy Brantley add fresh lemon, some sea salt, some real maple syrup and a bit of cayenne pepper to your water. These all (in small doses) help hydrate the cells even better. (in his book there is lots more water information and recommendations)