Michael Wiblishauser

Michael Wiblishauser

When it comes to learning, many potential factors may influence the acquisition of new information. Our moods or mindset have an influence on learning. Simply put, if we are interested, we are more likely to learn it. Our physical or mental health also has an impact on learning new information. In those regards, children are no different from adults.

One of the most overlooked factors when it comes to learning is proper nutrition. It is difficult to learn while hungry. A person’s brain is distracted when it craves food. Therefore, satisfying that craving allows the brain to concentrate on the present learning tasks. Imagine a child, suffering from hunger pangs, trying to concentrate in order to learn. If adults have a difficult time trying to function without food, it must be worse for a child trying to do the same thing.

An important component to proper daily nutrition is breakfast. Adults may opt to eat something small or simple for breakfast. Some of us may skip breakfast altogether most mornings. Unlike in adults, the consumption of breakfast plays more of an importance on the brain’s development in children. Breakfast is associated with improved cognitive functioning in children. Nutritional deficiencies in thiamine, vitamin B, iodine, zinc and vitamin E have been shown to decrease mental concentration in children. It is crucial that children be provided with adequate nutrition to maximize learning.

In addition, normal daily consumption of breakfast is associated with academic achievement. Schoolchildren who ate breakfast on a daily basis were more likely to receive A’s and B’s as grades when compared to school children who did eat breakfast on a daily basis. In addition, it is important to consume a healthy breakfast. When I worked in primary and secondary schools, I saw on numerous occasions that children either buy unhealthy foods or bring them from home.

When it comes to eating a healthy breakfast – or for that matter any meal – there are some resources to assist us. A good resource to use is the choosemyplate.gov website. This government-operated website offers healthy recommendations on the quantities of the selected nutrients groups to be consumed on a daily basis. It also provides examples of which foods you should eat under each of the nutrient groups. This helps you decide which foods to include in your child’s breakfast. The goal is to have children eating nutritious breakfasts on a daily basis.

Michael Wiblishauser is an assistant professor of health studies at the UHV School of Education, Health Professions & Human Development.

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