Being healthier seems to always be a goal for a lot of people. Going green, losing weight, eating healthier, recycling more, etc are all common goals I see from people, especially this time of year. I know for myself it is, anyway! I thought I would share some thoughts for you on how this can come into your speech room or that you can implement to be a healthier SLP!!
I know this can be difficult to implement, but there are little ways to do it. I just learned recently that Office Max will give you $2 for every empty ink cartridge that you return to them! So not only are you recycling, but you are getting some money back for it! Also, SAVE your construction paper scraps. You never know when you'll need a little white scrap for eyes or a thin and narrow strip of blue for pants. Save these in gallon size bags, and have one bag per color. Place all bags in a basket and onto a shelf. Super easy system!
2. Choose your cleaners carefully!
I cannot even begin to tell you my reaction this summer when my supervisor asked me to wipe down the preschool table with 409! She said, "Well, just do it when the kids are outside, so they don't smell it." For me, it's just as bad that they were about to eat off the table 10 minutes later! Not only are the fumes bad, the chemicals could get onto their food or pencils or papers or whatever you have on your table. YUCK. And you know kids-the second they get a chance to put something in their mouths, they will! I have converted to using all-natural, nontoxic products when cleaning. This is healthier and safer for the students and for you! There are a lot of products out there that label themselves as "natural" and really aren't, so be careful with that. If you want more information about the products I use, you can click here or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org).
3. Avoid chlorinated products!
Did you know that paper towels and toilet paper are chlorinated? WHAT? I had no idea either! Try these things made with post-consumer products. They're better for you, your students, and the earth!
4. Vitamins and Supplements
It's that time of year where everyone is sick, or so it seems! I'm about to start up with preschoolers again. Just the fact that they're a bit "handsy" or "touchy-feely" if you will means they share a lot of germs. I don't want to their illnesses just from working in a classroom with them! I am starting my immune system booster regime soon! This will include more vitamin C, vitamin D3, probiotics, and nutriferon. As an aside, my cousin has been on those things every day for years and hasn't been to the doctor in 4 years. Never gotten sick. I think that's a testament to them working!! My goal is to stay healthy and energetic!
5. Talk about it with your students
One thing that we did in preschool was discuss the importance of hand-washing. We even put up a visual schedule of each step involved in the process. The kids loved pointing to it. Some of them even loved getting soap (it was foam soap)! I think it's one of those things that we sometimes assume they already know or are doing at home, but it is quite possible that it is not happening! Another thing related to overall good hygiene is brushing teeth. Our preschoolers actually brush their teeth at school to instill this one habit. I bet it stops the spread of some germs, too! February is National Children's Dental Health Month, so I would encourage you to talk about this with your students.
6. Don't stress out
Stress can weaken your immune system, thus making you more susceptible to everything around you. Try not to stress as much as you possibly can! Take moments for yourself and your families each day. Exercise. Journal. Cook. Whatever helps you and you enjoy, do it!
7. Use what you already have
This will save you TONS of money. Create a task using a game you already own. Most games are language-rich and can be modified for some speech tasks too! Look around the house for objects. This is also more "real-life" than using toys! Save water bottles and empty cans for future materials. I know people are constantly coming up with new games, books, and therapy materials. I promise you, you can do a therapy session with a plate, spoon, rubber band, cup, and a pencil.
You're probably sitting here thinking, "Ya right. I know all that already" or "I know, I know. It's just so expensive to do it!" You're right-you probably have heard it. I always need reminders for myself, though. So consider it a gentle reminder!
I also acknowledge that it's expensive. I try to be as frugal as possible. It took me a long time to jump on board with all of this, and I'll tell you why I finally did. It is more about prevention than anything else. If you switch to all-natural cleaners or take your supplements, you could save yourself a lot of problems LATER in life. I know it takes awhile to process and sink in, so just think about it.
Join me on my quest to go green in the speech room and become a healthier SLP. Do you have any ways to go green in your speech room? I would love to hear them!