When you become a parent you realize the power of your example. Even as young six months babies want to eat what their parents are eating. As the authority figure in a classroom, the teacher takes up where the parent left off: he/she is looked up to as the leader. Most kids respect school staff. In general school is a big deal to kids and they enjoy it. Just ask one.
Children know that they come to school to “learn how to read and write,” but they are learning more than just the material taught in the classroom. Many important things are learned implicitly, which means that many concepts are not taught to students directly. For example, social learning is learned implicitly (aside from parental advice). There isn’t any real instruction on how to behave socially; students are expected to learn these skills by watching, interacting, and behaving socially with their peers. I view “character education” as a social skills curriculum. There is wide variation in “character education,” but I believe it has value if implemented in a constructive way for students (not just posters, but interactive instruction with modeling, peer-to-peer groups, etc).
Nutrition is largely ignored by elementary schools because it has been expected that parents teach kids at home. I don’t think that is happening. I believe that school districts will be charged with adding nutritional curriculum as childhood health and obesity become a core issue in the US. But the kids do get instruction on nutrition: they eat school lunch. Whether or not we acknowledge it, kids “learn” which foods they should be eating in the cafeteria. If the school serves them hot dogs or chicken nuggets, kids think that hot dogs and chicken nuggets are good for them. If they eat fruit “icees” in the cafeteria, then fruit icees must be healthy. When given only 20 minutes for lunch, they learn that eating fast is what’s done. If they don’t get real silverware, they learn that it’s better to eat with their hands. If they don’t get recess, they learn that free play has no value. These are the messages that kids absorb, even if teachers and school districts don’t realize they are sending them. We to wise up already about what is “not” being taught.