Monday, February 22, 2010

Has Your Child Had Breakfast?

February is National Hot Breakfast Month, one of innumerable "holidays" created by marketing and advertising firms to promote specific products. But before we dismiss this pseudo-holiday as a creation of food company promoters, let's look beyond its origins to the importance of breakfast -- hot or cold -- to the academic performance of children.

Studies suggest that even generally well nourished students who skip breakfast have some reduction in their memory and attention processes. For students who generally lack good nutrition, the impact of regular, healthy breakfasts is even more pronounced. These students, who are usually studied as part of reviews of the impact of school breakfast programs, show not just gains in memory and cognitive areas, but improve their attendance, behavior, and other important keys to success in school as well.

As we all rush around on school and work days, it's difficult to get children to eat anything, let alone a nutritionally sound breakfast. Some parents have taken a creative approach to this problem by giving kids food they like, that they can grab as they leave the house. A box of low fat milk or 100% juice with a slice of leftover pizza, a peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat bread, or a cereal or granola bar carefully vetted for nutritional content, can all get a reluctant breakfast eater started on a better day in school. And for those students who will eat a healthy breakfast at home, hot cereal is an inexpensive choice and one that takes only a few minutes in the microwave. However you solve the breakfast dilemma, keep in mind that having a good breakfast will make a difference for your student once class begins.

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