Ask most teachers what characteristics they'd like to see in their students while in school and you might get a list like this: Eager to learn, Alert and Well-behaved.
A key factor to improving any of those characteristics is proper nutrition and hydration.The facts are poor nutrition is directly linked to lower academic achievement. Many studies support what educators have long believed to be true: when a child's basic nutritional needs are met, they do better in school. It is in this area, that parents can have an immediate and direct effect on their student's academic success.
So what can a parent do to help his/her student have better attention, improve attendance and achieve academically? First, start the day with a good breakfast. This is absolutely essential, as breakfast is the most important meal of the day. A family can either keep it simple and have breakfast items, such as cereal with milk, fruit, cheese, toast or more readily available at home. Another option, is to make sure your student arrives at school in time to take advantage of the school's breakfast program, if available.
For many kids, lunch can be equally important. If packing your child's lunch make sure it contains foods that are rich in protein and iron to boost energy, concentration, attention and critical thinking. Foods such as peanut butter, poultry, fresh fruit vegetables and whole grains are encouraged. If your child eats school lunch, pay close attention to what is on the menu to ensure your child is receiving proper nutrition.
It is especially important in these beginning, hot days of the school year, that your student stay hydrated. He or she should drink plenty of water or electrolyte replacement drinks (i.e. Gatorade). He or she should avoid sugary drinks such as soda, powdered drinks or fruit juice. Good hydration is essential for proper brain function and will help to boost energy as well.
Good nutrition and hydration are part of the foundation of healthy learning. Parents and teachers alike can help students make healthier choices and improve not only their academic experiences, but their overall well-being.
For more information on proper nutrition for your student, check out the following books at the Springfield-Greene County Library.
Brain Food: recipes for success in school, sports and life by Vicki Guercia Caruana and Kelly Guercia Hammer
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