Learn about: skin cancer, being SunSmart, and how to incorporate sun protection strategies into your day to day activities.

Generation SunSmart

Kick start the school year with healthy habits

What’s your favourite way to start your year off? Email schools@cancerwa.asn.au with your name, school name and answer by 13 March 2020 to go in the draw for a set of 10 classroom hats to use as spares and a slinky machine for Crunch&Sip fun! WA schools only.

A new year, a new class and a fresh start. Establishing classroom routines and rituals can include building healthy habits. Here are some tips on how to embed Crunch&Sip and SunSmart practices from the start of the year.

Classroom layout

  • Consider where students will keep their hats, water bottles and vegetables or fruit for Crunch&Sip. Make them accessible for students, such as on desks, in trays, or on a designated table or basket.
  • Choose a central location for sunscreen that is easy for students to access before heading out to recess and lunch.

Communication with parents

  • Let parents know what to provide. A brimmed hat, sunscreen, water bottle (filled with water) and a serve of easy to eat veg or fruit should be included in their bag every day.
  • Remind parents to ensure sunscreen is applied before students come to school.
  • Make a rule regarding classroom birthdays or other ‘treats’ and communicate it early (otherwise, prepare for the cupcake/chocolate/ candy cane onslaught every time there’s a birthday or at Christmas).
  • Communicate information and ideas/recipes for healthy lunchboxes or Nude Food days.
  • Make sure instructions are left in any classroom notes for relief teachers.

Rules versus routines

  • The aim of implementing school health programs is to develop life-long healthy habits. Spend time explaining to students WHY they have to wear a hat when outside, the benefits of sunscreen, and why eating veg and fruit and drinking water is good for you. Check out the lesson plans on the Crunch&Sip or Generation SunSmart websites for classroom activity ideas.
  • Abolish the traditional “no hat no play” rule. Not only can it discourage physical activity, it makes wearing a hat a punishable rule, rather than a healthy habit.
  • Involve your students in developing Crunch&Sip routines (consider time of day, permitted foods, hand washing and waste disposal). Some of these may be negotiable (e.g. time of day), some may not (e.g. permitted foods).

Start of the day

  • As students start trickling into the classroom, they need to know exactly what to do. What should they do with their homework? What do they need to take out of their bags? Include the things they need for Crunch&Sip and to be SunSmart.
  • Use the time before the bell rings for the start of lessons to apply sunscreen (if they didn’t at home) or purchase their Crunch&Sip from the canteen.
  • Allocate a classroom job of checking daily UV forecasts. Check out myuv.com.au
  • Taking the roll or greeting students as they enter? Ask them to tell you what yummy veg or fruit they have brought for Crunch&Sip!

Healthy schools need healthy role models

Research shows that children are more likely to practice healthy behaviours if they see staff and parents practicing healthy behaviours. So visibly slop on sunscreen and slap on a hat before heading outdoors, and pack some Crunch&Sip to eat with your class. It’s good for your health too.

SunSmart tip – applying sunscreen

The National Health and Medical Research Council advises that children who are able to apply their own sunscreen (under supervision) should be encouraged to do so. This fosters independence and responsibility. Most children should be physically able to apply sunscreen independently by the time they start Kindergarten. Timetable a lesson early in the school year to explicitly teach students how to apply it by themselves.

SunSmart tip – “Where’s your hat?”

Ideally, students should bring a hat from home every day to wear whenever the UV is 3 or above, including on their way to and from school and during out of school hours care. If reminders, parent communications, and incentives aren’t working, have some spare hats that are for students to wear.

However, consider that some students may not have the means to provide their own hat. If that’s an issue at your school, speak to your P&C/P&F for assistance in providing hats for these students or contact Cancer Council WA.