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Back to School Success!

It’s back to school time yet again. In all the chaos of getting back to the fall routine, there are a few things that shouldn’t be overlooked. Registered Dietitian, Dianne Esplin, has some tips that will have your kids primed for success throughout the year. 

Healthy Students are Better Learners

If you’ve ever tried to concentrate while you are hungry, you know what a distraction it can be.   Researchers have found that it makes a big difference in schools as well. Eating breakfast has a positive impact on math and reading test scores, attention and classroom behavior. Hunger isn’t the only issue. Student grades and absences are affected by diet quality. Good nutrition, especially breakfast, allows students to meet their peak learning potential every day.

Easy and Healthy Meals for Students

School breakfast is available in many Idaho schools, and makes a convenient option for busy families. It consists of a whole-grain, fruit and low fat milk. School lunch has kicked it up a notch too; it isn’t the school lunch you might remember. Today, students are offered a greater variety of fruits and vegetables, whole-grains, lean proteins and low fat milk.

Move for Your Mind555

Physical activity can make a big impact on student success.  Brain imaging shows that twenty minutes of exercise before a test really wakes up a student’s mind, and test scores have confirmed that. Walking or biking to school can start students out ready to learn.  Active recess and physical education classes will act as brain-boosting breaks within the school day.

What Can I Do?

Be a champion for healthy eating and physical activity at your child’s school. Ask how you can support your school’s wellness goals. Volunteer to help with school gardens, walk to school initiatives, Fuel Up to Play 60, healthy fundraisers or other activities. All these actions can help boost the learning potential of the entire school.

Parents play an integral role by setting the positive example at home.  Start having family dinners that include all the MyPlate food groups: vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean protein and dairy. Unplug the internet, crank up the radio and have a family dance moment when kids need a break from homework. After all, it’s not just effective learning; it’s establishing a lifetime of good habits to ensure a bright and healthy future for our kids.

Links:   The Wellness Impact:  Enhancing Academic Success through Healthy School Environments Brief for Parents or Full Report

Dianne Esplin is a Registered Dietitian and coordinator for the Idaho Department of Education-Child Nutrition Programs.   She recently attended the GenYOUth Nutrition + Physical Activity Learning Connection Summit, and she’s a big fan of yogurt-fruit smoothies.