Tag Archives: education

Why H2O?

Our Brain Our brains depend on proper hydration to function optimally. Brain cells require a delicate balance between water and various elements to operate, and when you lose too much water, that balance is disrupted. Your brain cells lose efficiency.   Research Years of research have found that when we’re parched, we have more difficulty keeping our attention focused. Dehydration can impair short-term memory function and the recall of long-term memory. Water makes up about 90% of the brain and is an essential element in neurological transmissions. Poor hydration adversely affects a child’s mental performance and learning ability. Symptoms of mild dehydration may include tiredness, headaches and a feeling not unlike jet lag, as well as reduced alertness and ability to concentrate. Mental performance including memory, attention and concentration can decrease by about 10 % once thirst is felt. Mental performance deteriorates progressively as the degree of dehydration increases. Thirst is usually felt when dehydration results in 0.8 – 2%  loss of body weight lost due to water loss. For a 10-year-old child weighing 30kg this is equivalent to one or two very large glasses of water (300ml each), which is the amount a child could lose during a PE lesson or running around in the playground. Water consumption also has an immediate alerting and revitalizing effect. In schools taking part in the Food in Schools water provision pilot project, the consensus from teachers was that “enhanced provision contributed to a more settled and productive learning environment, as well as helping to instill good habits”. The key to boosting the capacity to learn is to keep well hydrated throughout each day (ideally from a personal water bottle within arm’s reach).   How Much is Enough? •The standard recommendation is at least 6-8 glasses (1.5 – 2 liters) a day, drunk regularly throughout the day (at least 3-4 glasses while at school) ensuring that plenty of additional fluid is drunk during warm weather and/or when exercising. “When exercising” means before, during and after exercise and is not restricted to formal PE and games lessons, but is also applicable to active play (e.g. football in the playground or periods of running around). •The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, Washington DC (2004), includes a separate category for teenage boys aged 14 over who require a higher average fluid intake of 2.6 liters (about 11 large glasses). •Kids spend at least half their waking hours in school. During this time, they should be drinking at least half their daily requirement, spread regularly throughout the day.  Effects Symptoms of mild dehydration can be difficult for teachers and parents to spot. In class some children may become irritable, tired and less able to concentrate. By the time they get home many children are complaining of tiredness or headaches and some may be too lethargic to do anything but slump in front of the television. Although we may think of this behavior as normal, it is now known that it may, at least in part, be due… Read More »

Getting Your Child to Want to Read

Choice and Awareness As a reading teacher of disengaged and disgruntled high schoolers, I quickly learned what was missing. Choice and awareness of great books is key. As adults, many of us read for pleasure and that is exactly what it ispleasurable. We often can’t wait to crawl into bed at the end of a long day, grab our book on our bedside table and lose ourselves in the story or new found knowledge. How did we get to this point? Well it wasn’t through forced reading of certain books and reports or quizzes. By taking your child to the library or bookstore and setting as few parameters as you feel comfortable, you are taking the first step. However, many kids don’t know how to find a book or author they will enjoy. Asking a librarian or a best friend may work, but it may also cause more frustration. How to Find the Right Book 1. Have your child make a list of things he or she likes. 2. Go online together and search for age appropriate books on those subjects. 3. Read reviews together about those books. *Remember just because a book gets good reviews doesn’t mean it will turn out to be right for your child. 4. Call or search the library database ahead of time to make sure the books are available. 5. Let your child get at least three. Reading Time Decide on a reading time together(no more than 15 minutes), and let him or her chose the location. Encourage them to read at least 20 pages before deciding whether or not a book is right for him or her. Encourage unstructured, child run discussions about the book. Ask the child if he or she would like to read a “good part” to you or summarize a section. Ask your child if he or she would like you to read some of the book to them. Model reading. Spend time reading yourself. Share the highlights of your book. Talk to him or her about your favorite parts, predictions, unexpected twists, and the movie you create in your mind as you read. Avoid -using reading time as a punishment -putting many parameters on when, how, or what is to be read -asking a lot of questions or trying to force a book discussion -interrupting your child during reading time -getting overly excited, frustrated, or concerned with what your child is reading (follow your moral compass, but know that your favorite book as a kid might not be his or hers)  

The Effect of Breakfast on Learning

Why Children and Teens Need to Eat Breakfast “Your brain (and central nervous system) run on glucose — that’s the fuel you need to think, walk, talk, and carry on any and all activities. Let’s say that the last time you eat something at night is at 10 or 11 PM (not optimal, just an example). The following day, you don’t eat breakfast but wait until about noon or so to eat — you’ve gone thirteen or fourteen hours with nothing in your system. Your poor brain is surely deprived — and your body has to work extra hard to break down any stored carbohydrate or turn fat or protein into a usable form for your brain to function. That’s a lot to ask for when you’re sitting in a classroom, trying to concentrate on reading, or doing any other work.Eating breakfast has been proven to improve concentration, problem solving ability, mental performance, memory, and mood. You will certainly be at a disadvantage if your classmates have eaten breakfast and you’ve gone without. On average, they will think faster and clearer, and will have better recall than you. School or work can be tough enough without this extra added pressure. Breakfast skippers also have a harder time fitting important nutrients into their diet. Many foods eaten at breakfast contain significant amounts of vitamins C and D, calcium, iron, and fiber.” -Alice from www.goaskalice.columbia.edu What to Eat Whole Grain Cereal (avoid sugary cereals!) Yogurt Real Fruit Juice Fruit Protein Rich Foods (eggs, turkey bacon, nuts, yogurt, cottage cheese) Do your kids complain of feeling hungry all of the time? *Include more protein. Sugary foods or foods high in carbohydrates are readily converted to sugar. Protein is converted to usable energy much more slowly and thus keeps us satisfied longer. Whatever the choice, have them eat something. If you think they’re doing fine with no breakfast, just try changing your routine for a week. You’ll notice a difference. They will undoubtedly perform better with some fuel in their system, and, hopefully, become a breakfast believers. On the Go Snack Ideas Whole Grain Crackers Squeezable or Small  Yogurts Fruits (apple, banana, orange) Smoothies Dried Fruits and Nuts String Cheeses Llow-fat Granola Bars Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches Peanut Butter Crackers