We can attribute our intelligence and talent to our genetic makeup. We may even say smarter kids are born like that. But the environment in which our children grow up in can facilitate massive growth, learning and development, and nutrition has an important part to play.
Have you ever noticed that your students have trouble concentrating after lunch time? I can’t count how many times I’ve seen students return to class in a heightened state after eating high sugar lunches, followed by the inevitable sugar crash and burn.
It was a decade ago, after seeing the detrimental impact of poor diet on students’ learning that made me so passionate about improving students’ nutrition, not to mention the long-term impacts on children’s health and wellbeing.
When children eat a high sugar and fat diet and lack nutritious food, they are unable to sustain their brain power and their ability to concentrate in the classroom is impaired. This can lead to the inability to retain information and hence decline in academic performance, along with impeding student behaviour.
Jess, our Public Health Specialist, shares how good nutrition can improve children’s learning outcomes:
1. Good nutrition can help with behaviour and mood monitoring where children are more interactive with their peers, Teachers and participate more in class.
2. Foods that are rich in vitamin A, D and E, such as fortified cereals, carrots, broccoli, salmon and nuts, can strengthen children's immune system, which allow children to stay healthy and strong and have regular school attendance (Calder P. C. (2013).
3. Healthy diet can improve children's mental health. Mental health has shown to be a great predictor of academic performance (J. Michael Murphy et al., 2015).
4. Enhanced cognitive functions such as memory and concentration which allow children to stay on task for a longer period of time.
5. Nutritious foods can boost brain power which can help with critical thinking during assessments, which can boost children’s academic performance.
Good nutrition not only helps with learning but also behaviour. Study results show that children in low income-families where they are constantly hungry due to lack of nutritional food demonstrate academic, behavioural and emotional problems.
A good well-balanced diet that has enough protein, good fats, fibre and complex carbohydrates can help kids stay strong and healthy. They are more likely to attend school regularly, concentrate in class to retain information and show improved learning outcomes. A healthy and balanced diet allows our kids to perform better on assessments, stay active, focused and on task more often and increase their school attendance (Meyers, A. F., Sampson, A. E., Weitzman, M., Rogers, B. L., & Kayne, H. (1989)).
By teaching our children the value of nutrition and its importance, we are giving children the best chance of leading a healthy and productive life. Additionally, children are equipped with the knowledge to make healthy choices to make informed decisions about their health. Academic performances, in most cases, can influence children's future education, hence, impacting their income which leads to an enhanced quality of life.
So what is the takeaway?
As Teachers and Educators, we’re here to support children to reach their full potential. When teaching children about nutrition it is crucial that we’re equipped with the correct knowledge and information about nutrition to deliver correct and accurate information.
Register here for VIP access to our complimentary resources from the evidence-based Eat Smart B Active® program to support you in the delivery of the Health Curriculum and optimise your students' learning - Includes Videos, Songs, Interactive Quiz questions, Worksheets and Printable resources.
The Eat Smart B Active® program is an evidence-based program that supports Teachers and Educators to better engage children in the delivery of the Health Curriculum focus areas of Food & Nutrition (FN) and Health Benefits of Physical Activity (HBPA). A scientific study for the Eat Smart B Active® program implemented by researchers at the University of Queensland, and published in the International peer-reviewed Paediatrics Journal - Children, reported statistically significant improvements in school children’s nutritional knowledge, attitude, and behaviours, along with the doubling of vegetables and reduction of sometimes foods packed in children’s lunchboxes.
You can learn more about the Eat Smart B Active® program here
Wishing you every success.
Selina - BA (Psych) DipEd
Co-Founder | Educator