Are we doing enough to make sure our kids are healthy, happy and doing their best? We help them with homework, teach them about good hygiene, share our values, morals and life lessons that we’ve learned over the years. To add to those efforts, according to the CDC, kids who are healthy and active are higher achievers in school. This type of lifestyle is shown to improve grades, attendance and cognition. So what steps can be taken to ensure our children’s best performance?
Healthy Eating Habits
A proper diet is one of the keys to your child’s success. Healthy food can keep their immune system strong and promote brain function. Eating poor food choices can lead to lethargy and lower grades. There are categories that are particularly important.
- Breakfast. According to reports, children participating in the USDA breakfast program at their school have higher test scores and attendance rates. Whether the meal is being consumed at home before school or through the school program, it’s clear that breakfast needs to be a staple in the morning routine. There really is something to the old adage “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”
- Fruits and Vegetables. The goal is to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. This comes easy for some kids but for others, it can be a nightmare. Having a variety of choices on hand can make things go a bit smoother. Try to limit the amount of canned items when making your choices; these are often packed with additional sodium and preservatives that are not healthy. Frozen fruits and veggies are a great alternative and work well in casserole recipes and smoothies!
- Stay Hydrated. Drink plenty of water and don’t skimp on the calcium – it’s essential for growth.
It doesn’t stop with nutrition. Exercise and physical activity play a huge role in your child’s health. Children should be physically active for 30-60 minutes each day, according to The American Academy of Family Physicians. This doesn’t have to be a daunting task. There are many options to make it fun and easy.
- Walks. Going for a walk is not only good physical activity, but it’s a great way to spend some quality time together as a family. Give your kids a choice if you are able. Some families prefer to go right after school, while some families favor a dusk or nighttime walk. No matter what you decide, try to make it a fun tradition. Whether you’re playing a game of “I Spy” while walking through the neighborhood or teaching the different constellations that can be seen in the western Wisconsin sky, find a way to keep your kids engaged. This will encourage your children to maintain an active lifestyle in the future as well.
- Play Outdoors. If kids are bored these days, they tend to turn to electronic devices for entertainment. Instead of always choosing this route, send them outside! Even a simple game of tag is enough to encourage teamwork and help with problem solving. Tossing a ball around with the dog, climbing a tree or playing kickball can improve coordination skills.
- Join a Club. Extracurricular activities have been shown to improve cognition, grades and team-building skills. Look for a club such as the Scouts, 4-H, or an arts and crafts group for your child to join. Ask the other parents about carpooling options if needed. The YMCA is a wonderful option to utilize as well; they have excellent activities and classes to participate in.
Be sure to discuss any new diet or exercise regimen with your family physician. Always drink plenty of water and stretch for at least 10 minutes before any physical activity. The Hudson area has great trails your family can explore. Pack a picnic, get some exercise and make some memories.