We all know that kids need to eat right, exercise, and get a good night’s sleep. A healthy lifestyle not only improves a child’s grades and performance, but also influences their behavior and moods. Children that don’t get proper nutrition, exercise, and sleep are prone to a lack of energy and focus. As a parent, getting your child to eat a carrot and go to bed early are easier said than done. These are suggestions for a few small adjustments you can make to improve your child’s learning performance and promote a healthy lifestyle.
Healthy Lifestyle Changes for Improved School Performance
1. Midmorning Snack
Healthy eating has been linked to higher grades, better memory, alertness, and faster information processing. It’s widely known that eating breakfast improves a child’s performance in school.
“In a study of students 12 to 13 years old, the average mark increased as breakfast quality improved,” says dietitian Elsa Zied in U.S. News and World Report, “Eating a breakfast with foods low on the glycemic index was associated with faster information processing. Low-GI foods include fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole-grain breads and cereals.”
Additional studies have since proven the added benefit of a midmorning snack. In one study of students ages 7 to 9, having a midmorning snack improved memory. Packing a healthy snack for your child that follows the low-GI guidelines, such as a handful of whole grain crackers and a piece of fruit, will help them retain the lessons from their morning classes.
2. Evening Exercise
Exercise is known to release chemical compounds that can boost memory. Exercising a few hours after learning helps people retain information, according to this 2016 study in Current Biology.
If your child isn’t involved in any after school sports or activities, playing in the backyard or taking a brisk 15-minute evening walk, bike ride, or jog before dinner are great alternatives. The exercise will help them retain information from the day, stay focused on their homework, and sleep better.
Teaching kids meditation builds attentiveness, respect for fellow classmates, self control, and empathy, while reducing stress. Meditation is an excellent bedtime ritual to practice with children. The breathing techniques will act as a strategy for managing their stress and remaining calm and focused in school.
In one study, “student behavior improved significantly in all four areas measured -- paying attention, self-control, classroom participation, and respect for others -- and these gains were maintained seven weeks later.”
The easiest way to get your child to meditate is to practice with them. Practices should be the same length in minutes as they are years old, starting at eight years old. Sit with them in their room before bed and focus on breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth. You can also incorporate visualization techniques, like imaging a wave crashing on the beach with exhale.
4. Technology Curfew
A sleep-deprived child cannot learn efficiently. Sleep plays a critical role in memory retention, judgement, and mood. Bedtime battles are nothing new in parenting, so apart from enforcing a bedtime -- how can you ensure they’re getting enough sleep?
Experts suggest a media curfew. Make sure there are no devices such as smartphones, TVs, or tablets in your child’s bedroom at night. The light emitted from these devices changes the pattern of your child’s brain waves, increasing their alertness, and making it difficult for them to fall asleep and stay asleep. The same is true of adults, so you might want to consider a technology curfew for yourself as well!
With consistency, these small changes to your family’s routine will lead to healthy, rested, attentive children in the classroom. For more learning tips and educational resources and insight, visit TeachNest at teachnest.com/blogs/news.