By: Rachel Miller
During my rotation with the University of Maryland Extension Food Supplement Nutrition Education (FSNE) Program I was able to explore a very fun, interactive, rewarding aspect of nutrition – educating elementary school children. For two weeks, I had the pleasure of working alongside five different FSNE educators, helping to teach nutrition fundamentals to kids in kindergarten through fourth grade. In addition to teaching lessons, my partner, Samantha, and I also developed social media content for FSNE’s Facebook page and blog. Creating content for FSNE was more challenging than I thought it would be as we had to develop content for diverse audiences. With springtime approaching, I created four posts for Facebook geared to the upcoming season:
- a Spring Produce guide,
- Mother’s Day Recipe,
- the Nutritional Benefits of Asparagus, and
- Healthy Grilling Tips.
Our content creation eased us into teaching lessons in the classroom. Many of our lessons were a part of FSNE’s Read for Health Program. This program pairs a food item with a book, allowing students to try a new food while conveying an important nutrition message. On our first day with an educator, Samantha and I were thrown right into the mix. We prepped food for Read for Health lessons and helped kids make their own “garden in a glove.” By the end of the day, we were reading books to the classes and taking the lead on activity instruction. Each day thereafter had something new to offer. Other activities included making strawberry smores, building a garden on a plate, sampling new foods, teaching how plants grow, and helping students maintain their school’s garden.
While interning at FSNE, I learned that preparation is the key to success in the classroom. Success was when kids tried something new and learned about the importance of good nutrition. Many of the classes I helped to teach had each student write down what they learned from the lesson to bring home. I thought this is a wonderful way to spark parent involvement in their child’s diet.
After two weeks, six different elementary schools, and many laughs, I learned how important (and fun!) nutrition education programs in schools are. This rotation in its entirety was very valuable, especially because I was able to observe each educator’s teaching style. Having this opportunity allowed me to learn from a variety of nutrition educators and adapt some of their strategies to create my own teaching style.