Out of the 3,000+ students I've taught in my career, I've only had 3 (you read that correctly) students miss a performance... ever.
None were due to illness.
If you know me, you know I'm a big believer in providing youth with opportunities to practice being accountable and take ownership for their experiences + successes. This intentional climate of personal responsibility plays a large role in my students' amazing attendance record. Unfortunately...
Becoming immune to laziness + irresponsibility doesn't make students immune to the cold or flu.
That's where these 3 sneaky tips to keep students healthy come to the rescue!
Infuse Rhythm Lessons with Fun Facts about Immune-Boosting Foods
I'll agree... it's not our responsibility to educate our music students about nutrition. However...
Kids deserve to learn how maintain their health and a few 20-second memorable "Fun Facts about Food" are totally worth the possibility to keeping our students healthy enough to attend performances!
Here's how I do it:
It's no secret that I use everyday words to help students connect with + remember rhythms.
The first rhythm words I use with students are types of food (starting with Eggs then Bacon – I'll admit, this is a moral struggle for me as a vegan, haha). Later, I introduce other word options depending on the season – like Halloween or Valentine's Day.
When Autumn approaches, I begin to push the healthy, immune boosting foods as fun rhythm challenges.
"Let's tap the beat together... now chant this with me: Blue-berry, blue-berry, blue-berry..."
"Who can tell me what blueberries are good for?" The most common answers I hear are "dye" and "practicing throwing food in the air and catching it with your mouth" – kids are hilarious, aren't they?!
"Blueberries are a superfood – say 'SUPERFOOD!' (I do this with big strong arms like a superhero). Wild blueberries are small-but-smart, just like you! When you eat them, they can actually find anything inside of you that needs to be healthier and then they find a way to help you without you even telling them what to do! Do wild blueberries sound like an important food for us to eat?!"
Depending on the demographics of the class, I sometimes also share: "Wild blueberry bushes are super-resilient, too. They actually grow back bigger and stronger when they're burnt to the ground in a fire. That's why many people eat them when they go through hard times, because the wild blueberries can pass on their energy of being stronger after hard times to the person eating them."
Keep your eye out for a "Healthy Rhythms" lesson coming soon! It will include other immune-boosting foods like broccoli and sweet potatoes. leafy greens cabbage berries antioxidants apple browning
Diffuse Essential Oils in Your Classroom
Cough, sneezes, dirty hands touching sticks + blowing into instruments... hand washing can only do so much.
And forget hand sanitizer – the stuff that "kills 99.99% of germs". Our skin has good + bad bacteria just like our gut. We want to keep the good bacteria, not kill it! Commercial hand sanitizers are made of toxic chemicals that dry out your skin and kill the good guys.
Naturally healthy bodies require natural, healthy products.
At BD101, we trust and use doTERRA Essential Oils because they have set the quality and purity standard for essential oils in the wellness world beyond organic.
doTERRA has a special essential oil blend called On Guard® that is perfect for cleaning the air + surfaces in your classroom as well as support a healthy immune system and protect against environmental threats.
Model Simply Self-Care
I'm sure you already know that stress has a negative impact on our health. We don't have to lecture about this to students, though – it's way easier than that!
Kids are biologically programed to soak up the behavior of adults around them to learn survival skills.
Have you ever sat up tall in front of your students and noticed a majority of them sit up taller without you ever saying a word?
Imagine how much stress we can release by simply taking a deep, noticeable breath in front of our students at the beginning and end of each lesson? Magic Sauce!
Another simple, 60-second bond-building conversation we can have with them is about how we like to give ourselves a break by leaving our phone in the classroom for a minute to go outside, take some deep breaths, and notice things in nature we may not have noticed before... leaves turning colors, weeds growing in cracks in the asphalt, or how many red things we see while standing in one place.
Sharing about our own self-care practices feels way more inspiring than telling a kid to "Go outside and take a deep breath, don't come in till you're ready to be a good boy!" doesn't it?
Affirmative Word Choice
I've heard teachers (with good intentions) pressure students with "You'd better not get sick, we have a concert coming up!"
Instead of programming students minds with the idea of getting sick, it's more effective to say, "We are so healthy and we're going to stay healthy so that everyone can perform together at our concert!"
How do you help your students stay healthy? We’d love to hear your tips + tricks!