Environmental & Community Health

Raising Health Awareness for Kindergartners

I absolutely enjoy working with kids! I grew up in a large family with many younger cousins, and throughout high school I volunteered as a reading tutor at a local elementary school and at a public library. I’ve become accustomed to interacting and working with young children.

One of the community service organizations I’m involved with on campus is the DeCal Health Information in Kids’ Education (HIKE). HIKE is an outreach program that gives undergraduates the opportunity to build health awareness among local kindergartners at Emerson Elementary School. I currently am a facilitator for the course. My main role is to not only produce awesome, health-oriented lesson plans but also to create fun, hands-on activities for the kids to enjoy. HIKE’s mission is to ultimately teach kindergartners fun ways to stay healthy!

In HIKE’s recent visit to Emerson, lesson plans centered on the theme of personal hygiene, which really is one of the first steps to good health. There were three groups of students, each of which presented different topics on ways to keep your body clean and healthy.

One group, in particular, focused on dental hygiene and the importance of brushing and flossing. For their activity, they created an enlarged model of the human mouth using water bottles, card stock, and cardboard. The children were awestruck! The group began their lesson by teaching the kids the proper method of brushing and eventually had the children practice on the model itself using actual toothbrushes and toothpaste. Although things got really messy, the kindergartners had a blast, and I sure did, too! For their flossing activity, the group had the kindergartners pretend that they were each a tooth so they could practice “flossing” each other with jump ropes. We “big kids” even got in the action! Overall, it was such a neat activity, and the kids really enjoyed it!

The other two groups focused on the importance of hand hygiene and food hygiene. They also had really great activities for the kids that got them really excited about hand-washing, germs, and food contamination. At the end of the day, I felt the kindergartners learned a lot about personal hygiene, and that alone was the highlight of my week.

It’s always a joy to see these children become so excited about the health topics that we teach them. I personally never had college students come teach me these things when I was a kindergartner. The fact that HIKE provides undergraduates with the opportunity to work with children and teach them about health is really special, something I will surely cherish during my remaining time in college.

Article by Justin Ramos

Feature Image Source: Stanford Graduate School of Education