I love school. I mean they take my children for six hours every week day, for free and teach them stuff too! What’s not to love?
But just recently they’ve been making my life harder. There’s a new headmaster and he wants to make some changes. Hurrah! Better school, better education, better all round.
But he’s parenting not teaching.
I’ve happily left teaching to the school staff and I’d kind of expected for them to extend the same courtesy to me, but they’ve decided to have a say in what my children eat.
Now don’t get me wrong, I completely agree that we are in the middle of an obesity crisis and it’s unacceptable that 20% of children are leaving primary school obese. Not puppy fat, curvy, big boned or any other euphemism you can think of, obese. Something needs to be done, but is school really the place to do it?
I’m all in favour of the school’s new recommendation for the children eating fruit at snack time rather than the usual pack of Monster Munch. Anything to get them to expand their horizons beyond completely blemish free apples and bananas would be a winner too
<looks sadly at growing pile of browning bananas>.
However the nutritional
interference advice doesn’t stop there. In a genius move by the school they have allowed the children to play a game, Cookin Castle that has food recommendations by the Food Standards Agency (FSA). The aim is to safely prepare food for a family that’s nutritionally balanced, the better you do the higher the score you get. Apparently this isn’t a diet plan, it’s a broad strokes approach to teaching children about food groups.
They’ve been happily beeping away on various devices claiming “But it’s homework Muuum.”
Fair enough but I’ve played this now and this isn’t to do with healthy eating, it’s all about weight loss. Suddenly my children are asking for skimmed milk and worry that butter is bad for them. They’re asking about the fat content of meals and eating apples like they’re going out of fashion.
Children need fat, up to 35% of their calorie intake should come from fat. It helps to absorb non water-soluble vitamins such as A, D and E. During periods of growth and development (err, what childhood’s all about) they are essential for the formation of nerve tissue in the brain. Even the big no, no saturated fat is essential for the body’s production of steroid hormones, including sex hormones like oestrogen and testosterone.
Yet when playing the game, there are prompts advising to cut fat from foods when the chosen meals contain less than half their essential daily fat requirements. And don’t even get me started on the messages praising them for making calorie reducing choices, it seems like they are positively encouraging an eating disorder.
I realise that the plan is to try and catch the children that would otherwise never be taught about portion control and balancing their diets but to disguise this as healthy eating is wrong. They have stripped taste, enjoyment, sociability and fun out of food and that’s not healthy at all.
The result of this is I have a couple of choices:
a.) Become that mother and refuse to let my children sit these lessons.
b.) Demand the headteacher stops teaching about something they’re unqualified to advise on (that’d go down well)
c.) Take on the FSA and challenge their concepts of healthy eating (yeah right!)
d.) Teach them about healthy eating at home.
It looks like I’m going to have to start improving my children’s (and my) diet because I can hardly tell them that the school are getting it wrong while simultaneously letting them have chocolate everyday.