Halloween, Thanksgiving, all of the winter holidays… so many opportunities for a party! I love a good party- time to change your routine, socialize with friends, and eat special foods. But, for parties at school, I also always have my “educator” hat on, and think about how we can use every element of our time with children at Seneca Academy for learning.
I’m focused right now on food and Halloween. We often have parties or “special snacks” at Seneca Academy on or around the 31st of October. I’m not opposed to sugary treats completely- at my house we call them “sometimes foods.” We talk about the fact that we don’t need to abstain from desserts or sugary drinks completely, but we need to consume them in small amounts and only on special occasions. However, I’ve become increasingly uncomfortable with the abundance of doughnut holes, cupcakes, and sweets that come in to school for our special snacks. This is especially concerning at Halloween when children will then go Trick or Treating for candy! I believe that we can “party” and have fun with special foods without offering only sugary treats. Over the years, parents have sent in adorable, creative, and healthy snacks that children love. My recent favorites were the clementine pumpkins and popcorn in rubber gloves. Below are some websites with other ideas. I love the banana ghosts and cheesy witch’s brooms! Sure, it takes a little more thought and time than stopping at Giant for cupcakes- but aren’t our children worth it?
In addition, this is not just about eating healthy foods now. By teaching children that parties don’t necessarily mean taking in an excess of unhealthy food, we are actually preparing them for making healthy choices later in life, with both food and alcohol. The habits they learn as children will be valuable as they navigate more difficult and potentially dangerous decisions later. By stressing that sweets are “sometimes foods” and encouraging our children to eat with moderation and balance, we help prepare them for a lifetime of healthy choices.