Improving Oral Health Literacy: Teaching Primary School Students through the Lessons in a Lunch Box Program
Course Number: 456
Section A: How to Present the Program (Steps 1 – 12)
The Lessons in a Lunch Box program is centered around oral health literacy. The program is designed to empower children and their families with the proper knowledge about routine dental health maintenance, oral disease prevention, good dietary choices and careers in dentistry. The effort to disseminate this knowledge is done so by using a “dentally designed” lunch box and a dental hygiene products container designed in the likeness of a fresh carrot. This comprehensive course explains the benefits the Lessons in a Lunch Box program has to offer to children and families, dental health professionals and primary school educators. A full description of the dentally designed lunch box is provided along with a complete description of the dental care in a carrot case. In Part 2 of Implementing the Lessons in a Lunch Box Program, 3 sections will be introduced. Section A goes through how to present the Lessons in a Lunch Box program, Section B through how to register an elementary school and Section C includes the final recommendations for a vigorous and well calculated execution of the program. Section A begins with the 12 steps that have been carefully outlined to take you through the Lessons in a Lunch Box presentation. Step 1 - It is important to give yourself plenty of time prior to the actual start of the Lessons in a Lunch Box program. Elementary schools run on pretty tight schedules that must be adhered to, therefore, being late could force the presentation to be rescheduled. All of the equipment ready checks, including display set ups and organization and the logistics of the volunteers must be addressed before the Lessons in a Lunch Box presentation begins. This checklist will help ensure everything runs smoothly. It is essential to make sure all of the equipment you will be using is in good working condition. There is usually someone at the school who will assist you with checking the equipment. A beautifully organized table display creates lots of excitement when the children enter the cafeteria! This is good, healthy happiness. The table display is a wonderful backdrop for group photographs. Guests also like posing in front of the lunch box display. The display table will make access to the lunch boxes quick and easy after the presentation. This is important because the children by now are very excited, and you want to get the boxes distributed as quickly as possible. A separate table display for the dental teaching aids used during the presentation also helps the program run smoothly. It is extremely important to be well-prepared for the program presentation. Anyone who has ever presented the program will tell you how jubilant the children quickly become. Being ready and evenly dispersed throughout the cafeteria to distribute and help explain the lunch box and its contents will help contain just some of the excitement! Step 2 - It is very clear the cafeteria is the ultimate place for the presentation of the Lessons in a Lunch Box program. Having the ability for the lunch box to be on the table in front of the students is important to help dental professionals better explain the educational materials. Step 3 - By this point there is always lots of excitement. Here is when the school administrators or those overseeing the presentation will encourage the program organizers to begin with the introduction. Many of the dental organizations who sponsor the *Lessons in a Lunch Box* presentations will often invite a special guest. These guest are many times public officials or government leaders who support the important need to advance oral health literacy like Maryland’s Late 7th District Congressman Elijah Cummings seen here. Step 4 - Explains the part of the presentation when the oral health education videos are shown to the students. This step is quickly followed by moving right into the oral hygiene demonstrations using the dental health aids. The Crest, Geena’s Tremendous Tooth Adventure and ADA’s Dudley the Dinosaur – Brush Your Teeth are two great videos that can be effectively used during the Lessons in a Lunch Box program presentation. Others include It’s Dental Flossophy Charlie Brown and Tooth Brushing with Charlie Brown by the ADA and have frequently been used in conjunction with the Lessons in a Lunch Box program presentation. And there are other oral health videos that are age appropriate for teaching flossing and brushing that can also be used. Links to all of these videos can be found in the Additional Resources/References section of this course. Here is a fine example of the Texas A&M Health Science Center Baylor College of Dentistry students reviewing flossing and brushing using the dental health aids with the table display of lunch boxes in the backdrop. The above hyperlink can be found in the Additional Resources/References section of this course to view more of their Lessons in a Lunch Box presentation. Step 5 – At this point in the presentation, the excitement has usually grown. Clapping three (3) times like this [clapping soound] is meaningful to employ here and will often help to calm some of the excitement before distributing the lunch boxes. Here the lunch box is being displayed by several volunteers, while one volunteer completely offers a comprehensive description of the educational container. In Step 6 - The back of the lunch box is described to teach the children to appreciate those responsible for funding the Lessons in a Lunch Box program year after year. The logos of the committed stakeholders supporting the Lessons in a Lunch Box program are shared with the audience of children and elementary school educators. Step 7 - Provides those presenting the program with the descriptions commonly used to explain the right label which gives information about ADEA and careers in dentistry and about the reflective label located at the opening of the lunch box that reads, “Seeing yourself becoming a dentist, a dental hygienist, a dental assistant or a dental technician.” Step 8 - Speaks to the 2 core messages offered by the Lessons in a Lunch Box program - oral hygiene and diet. Here it is demonstrated where proper flossing, proper brushing and the FDA recommended dietary portions are illustrated. Remember to explain to the children that if you brush first and then floss you will need to brush again. Therefore, flossing is illustrated first in this oral health literacy pictorgram found in the lunch box followed by brushing. This image offers a magnification of the flossing and brushing label located inside the lunch box. Reviewing it prior to the actual presentation will help go through this exercise and will familiarize you with the instructions in both English and Spanish. This illustration of the USDA food plate is an invaluable visual aid that teaches portion control for many children and their families. For many children, this will be the first explanation ever offered to them about healthy food portions. The images of healthy food choices in this pictogram will help to remind *Lessons in a Lunch Box* program presenters to talk about fresh fruits and fresh vegetables. Speaking to the children about healthy snacks that you enjoy could lead to better choices being made by the youngsters and could help to improve oral health outcomes. Step 9 - Will often lead to the children becoming very excited again as the dental carrot case is described. It may be useful here to again use the clap, clap, clap (3) times like this. [Clapping sound] This video link will walk the Lessons in a Lunch Box program presenter through the contents of the carrot case and the correct placement of each of the dental care items, including the toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss and the removal and the replacement of the carrot top which doubles as a rinse cup. Step 10 - This step is dedicated to explaining how to direct teachers and other educators to the oral health education materials and lessons that support the Lessons in a Lunch Box program. The program presenters are also encouraged to remind teachers to complete the online survey for educators. Here the Teacher Lesson Plan Guides that offer teachers plenty of oral health education materials are illustrated, including Lessons in a Lunch Box – A 5 Day Lesson Plan for Teachers and Code Red: The Oral Health Crisis in Your Classroom. Teachers can go to The Children’s Oral Health Institute website as well as others including the Crest + Oral-B website, www.dentaleducation.crest.com, to create custom oral health lessons for their students. Step 11 - Is where the presenters and volunteers go into full action. The lunch boxes are given out and time is spent with the children answering questions and explaining how the carrot case operates and the importance of the lunch box messages. Pictures are so meaningful. Most elementary schools will have obtained permission from parents at the beginning of the school year to allow their child to have pictures taken. It is important to obtain and retain a copy of the permission document from the school principle if you wish to publicly share the photographs you take during the Lessons in a Lunch Box Step 12 - Is an extremely important step where you physically show your presence as the image of a dental professional to be admired by these impressionable young minds. Therefore it is so, so important not to downplay who you are and to instead dress the part of the proud oral health professional.