“To thrive in school, every child needs a nutritious diet, enough exercise, sleep, and other basic building blocks of wellness,” said pediatrician Sandra Hassink, who leads the American Academy of Pediatrics Institute for Healthy Childhood Weight. “Study after study shows that healthy students are better able to learn,” she said.
- Food for thought: Research shows that children who eat a nutritious breakfast have improved concentration and memory, get better grades and score higher on standardized tests. Healthy school lunches also are an important part of a child’s overall nutrition. To supply enough nutrients and energy to last the day, meals should include whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and lean protein and dairy foods. Limit highly processed products and sugar-sweetened beverages such as soda.
- Active bodies, active brains: Building an hour’s worth of exercise into the daily routine helps keep children’s bodies — and brains — strong. Physically active students tend to have better grades, school attendance, classroom behavior and cognitive function. Because the best exercise for younger children is active play, the AAP supports daily recess in schools.
- Arriving Safely: Walking or riding a bicycle to school is a great way to get exercise, but make sure the route is safe, and teach your child traffic safety rules. Children should always wear a helmet while riding a bike or skateboard. If your child rides a bus to school, it should have seat belts.
- ABCs and Zzz’s: Students need between 8 and 12 hours of sleep each night. Skimping on sleep can affect their health, behavior and academic performance. Because teens naturally fall asleep later, the AAP recommends middle and high schools start no earlier than 8:30 a.m. Light from smartphones, TVs and devices can disrupt sleep, so turn them off at least an hour before bed. Read more