How to Stay Healthy in an Elementary Classroom

As teachers, we know how important it is to stay healthy and to help our students stay healthy too. It can be challenging to maintain a healthy routine and lifestyle when the school year gets busy. It is very common for teachers to prioritize their work over their health and wellness. However, this is when healthy habits matter the most! Ursula Foster once said, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” This is so true! In order for us to give to our students, their families, and our school community, we must first take care of ourselves. Easier said than done, right? Stay happy and healthy at work during flu season, the winter, and all year long by following the advice outlined below!



This blog post will…
  • suggest 5 ideas for how to maintain a healthy classroom at school
  • recommend how to prepare for when you are out sick
  • provide 10 tips for staying healthy
  • offer easy and healthy breakfast and snack ideas for classroom teachers

5 WAYS TO MAINTAIN A HEALTHY CLASSROOM ENVIRONMENT
  1. Use disinfectant wipes on all hard and frequently-touched surfaces in the classroom (e.g. tables, desks, door knobs, and classroom phone). Perhaps you could create a routine where students wipe down their desks/tables after eating snack and/or the end of the day using disinfectant wipes.
  2. Explicitly teach students hygienic habits (e.g. how to wash their hands properly and how to sneeze into their elbow). After teaching them the importance of doing these things, invite students to wash their hands before eating (e.g. snack and lunch) and after coughing, sneezing, or blowing their nose.
  3. Encourage students to adopt a healthy lifestyle, which involves eating nutritious foods, drinking lots of water, and getting plenty of sleep. Lead by example. Discuss your own personal habits.
  4. Shift to individual student supplies instead of community supplies. This could involve a pencil boxes with pencils, hand-held pencil sharpeners, crayons, scissors,  erasers, and glue sticks.
  5. Contact parents and share tips to help decrease the spread of germs (e.g. going to be early and eating nutritious foods). Perhaps this could be sent in an email or as part of a newsletter. In addition, ask students’ families for donations of boxes of tissues and disinfectant wipes.

HOW TO PREPARE FOR WHEN YOU GET SICK
I know what you're thinking. It's so much easier to tough it out at school than have to write sub plans. Trust me - I know how challenging sub plans can be. But I have good news... They don't have to be! I have print and go sub plans that will make your life SO much easier!

If and when you do get sick, it is important to take time to rest and recover in order to prevent it from developing into something worse. When your immune system is weakened, you are far more susceptible to other germs and viruses. 

I can speak from personal experience. In 2016 I came down with what seemed like a common cold and although I felt like crud I adopted the “it’s easier to go to school not feeling well than it is to stay home” mentality. I pushed myself through several days of teaching while I was fighting the cold and instead of getting better it developed into pneumonia. I then missed not only several weeks of school, but spent Christmas and the entire holiday break in bed feeling miserable, had to pay a ton of medical bills and developed complications from the antibiotics that were prescribed. I can’t help but wonder how that experience may have been much different if I had just listened to my body and take a couple days to rest at home when I knew I was not feeling well.

Here are some resources to check out...


10 TIPS FOR HOW TO STAY HEALTHY AS A TEACHER AND NOT GET SICK
  1. Eat nutritious foods: Maintain a balanced diet with colorful foods from different food groups. Remember to start the day off right with a delicious and healthy breakfast. Also, don’t forget to pack a good lunch and lots of snacks. Eat healthy meals that are both filling and delicious! 
  2. Exercise regularly: Start your day with an intense 30 minute workout before you take a shower, go for a walk after school, do pushups and sit-ups before you go to bed… It doesn’t matter what you do. Move your body as much as you can throughout the day!
  3. Drink lots of water: It is commonly recommended to drink at least 8 glasses of water per day. Make this a priority so that your body can fight off germs and keep feeling good.
  4. Get enough sleep: Instead of staying up late and watching t.v., head to bed early with a good book. This will help you wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day!
  5. Listen to your body: If your body is feeling tired and overworked, listen to it by resting and going to bed early. Your body tells you what it needs.
  6. Wash your hands frequently: Wash your hands after you use the bathroom, before you eat anything, before you go home from school, and whenever you touch something that likely has germs. When you wash your hands, remember to follow this procedure: 1) Wet your hands, 2) get soap, 3) lather it between your palms, 4) rub the backs of your hands one at a time, 5) interlock your fingers to get in between your fingers, 5) scrub your fingernails, 6) rub your wrists, 7) rinse the soap off of your hands, 8) and dry them.
  7. Do things you love: Make time for getting together with a friend for coffee on a weekend morning, take an art class, or whatever speaks to your soul. Do things that make you feel good, so that you can continue feeling good.
  8. Wipe down hard and frequently touched surfaces using disinfectant wipes: Do this at home, in your car, and at school. Keeping everything clean and disinfected will make it much easier for you keep germs at bay.
  9. Change your clothes when you get home from school: By getting changed, it reduces the spread of germs from outside of the house coming into your house.
  10. Get a flu shot: This helps your body fight off getting the flu.

10 HEALTHY CLASSROOM TEACHER BREAKFASTS
  • Quiche and raspberries
  • Eggs and strawberries
  • Banana and peanut butter
  • Smoothie
  • Avocado toast
  • Vegetable omelette
  • Oatmeal and blueberries
  • Yogurt with blackberries
  • Whole wheat toast with peanut butter
  • Bowl of cereal with banana slices on top


20 HEALTHY CLASSROOM TEACHER SNACKS
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Blackberries
  • Raspberries
  • Grapes
  • Banana
  • Apple
  • Orange
  • Pear
  • Watermelon
  • Yogurt
  • Cheese stick
  • Hard boiled egg
  • Trailmix
  • Almonds
  • Dried fruit
  • Popcorn
  • Hummus
  • Carrots with ranch dip
  • Celery with peanut butter


By the way, if you are not already subscribed to The Clutter-Free Classroom newsletter I encourage you sign up. Subscribers receive weekly tips for organizing and managing a classroom as well as exclusive free printables. You can sign up here.