GREEN RIVER — Parents expressed concerns to the Sweetwater County School District No. 2 Board of Trustees Tuesday night regarding teachers using candy and other processed foods as a reward in the classroom.
Parent Danae Curtis said that when her first grader started school this year, his behavior started changing. She believes his access to candy and other sugary and processed foods is the cause of his behavioral changes, as he does not have access to these types of food at home. She said that after completing certain tasks in the classroom, the students get treats such as candy.
Curtis said she can always tell when he has sugar at school as he is unable to focus at home, taking over 30 minutes to read through a single paragraph. She said that when he doesn’t have sugar he can get through his reading homework just fine.
“We are inhibiting our children’s ability to learn naturally,” she said. Curtis believes that the district should be teaching kids to be self-motivated and not dependent on instant rewards.
Melissa Crowell also spoke against the use of food as rewards in the classroom, calling for the district to stop allowing teachers to use any food as a reward.
“We are training them to need external sources of motivation and impeding their brain’s ability to learn,” she said.
She said that the PTOs can come up with better options for rewards such as blowing bubbles at recess, being line leader, helping around the classroom, calling home with a good report, class applause, and physical rewards such as novelty pencils, erasers and toys.
She said that she would like to see the district enforce its own wellness policy, which states: “Sweetwater County District No. 2 shall promote student wellbeing and academic achievement by supporting quality nutrition and physical activity as part of the learning environment. The district recognizes that collaborating with parents, students, school personnel, health professionals, and community members is the most effective method of creating a healthy environment where children can learn about and adopt positive lifestyle habits that are essential for students to achieve their full academic potential, as well as lifelong good health and wellbeing.”
She believes the wellness policy needs to state that staff do not use food as a reward. Both Curtis and Crowell referenced different studies that have been done that show how sugar affects the brain in negative ways.
The SCSD No. 2 Board of Trustees thanked both of them for speaking on this issue.