Healthy minds want to know: motivating students about nutritious eating habits

Qualitative research was conducted during a four-week nutrition unit in a kindergarten classroom made up of twenty students. The researchers taught daily nutrition lessons and offered healthy snacks during recess from class. Data were collected which examined the influence of the nutrition lessons and the healthy snacks on students' motivation to make healthy choices. The nutrition unit was intended to motivate students to make nutritious snack choices and to teach them which foods are good for their bodies. Parent/guardian involvement was encouraged and a nutrition workshop was offered that focused on the importance of encouraging healthy eating at home. The findings presented in this study are a synthesis of several insights derived from analysis of data collected. While kindergartners are motivated to make good choices, many choose foods based on taste and appeal, and still need adult guidance for appropriate food selection. In addition, kindergartners are challenged when classifying foods into appropriate food groups. This task proves difficult; however at the end of the nutrition unit, the researchers observed that students had gained greater awareness of basic nutrition concepts. In order to identify themes threaded throughout the collected data, the researchers intensively studies field notes and student work samples for pieces of meaningful information. Four strong categories emerged from this process: social setting influences motivation, parent/guardian influences and support, knowledge and instruction, and challenges. As teachers, this study has created an awareness to the need for nutrition education within the classroom while inspiring the adoption of curricula that would impact children's choices about healthy eating. Key Words: Nutrition Education, Healthy Snacks, Education of the Whole Child, High Obesity Rates, Relationship between Nutrition and Learning.