Breakfast + Dinner: A Student’s Meal Ticket to SuccessAugust 11, 2015
By Jessica Vician
“Breakfast might not just be the most important meal of a child’s day—it might be one of the most important meals of their life.”
If that’s not a statement that makes you want to stuff your child full of eggs, fruit, and whole wheat toast in the morning, I don’t know what is.
That statement opens a report from CNN about a study on the benefits of students eating breakfast versus the disadvantages of those students not eating breakfast.
The study found that kids who eat breakfast miss less school and do better in math, which in turn makes them 20 percent more likely to graduate high school. That might seem like a stretch, but the long-term study gets even more real when revealing those graduates will earn an average of $10,000 more annually than non-high school graduates.
The takeaway? If you want to increase the chances that your child will graduate from high school and therefore have a better life as an adult, you need to start by feeding him or her breakfast.
Why? Breakfast gives your child energy and nutrients that can help him or her focus in class. If your child is hungry, he or she can’t focus on what the teacher is doing, which will prevent him or her from learning and retaining skills and lessons.
Okay, so you know why your child needs a nutritious breakfast. You also know that he or she will have a nutritious lunch at school. But what about dinner?
Dinner is also critical for your child’s success for the same reasons breakfast is. A healthy dinner gives your child the nutrients he or she needs to grow and be a healthy child. It also helps your child sleep better.
Sleep is critical to helping your child succeed in school. Without a proper night’s rest, your child will have trouble staying awake, paying attention, and retaining the day’s lessons in class. To help your child get a good night’s sleep, include protein and carbohydrates (meats, fish, beans and fiber-rich grains) at dinner.
If you are unable to afford to provide your child with breakfast in the morning, talk to the school about applying for the free and reduced price lunch program, which may extend to breakfast. For help providing a nutritious dinner, seek out a food assistance program.
For more information on how your child’s physical health affects his or her academic success, see the YOU: Your Child’s First Teacher books.