The pressure to improve test scores brings higher requirements of children at earlier ages. Yet, studies have shown that homework and study alone do not contribute to test score improvement. Many social and economic factors play a part in the success of students as well. Proper nutrition, in particular, contributes to concentration, energy, and mood stabilization of students. As communities and schools work to build programs that support proper nutrition for all students, students will better be able to improve their academic performance.
Eating a balanced diet contributes to healthy brain chemistry. Protein for building enzymes, omega fatty acids for proper nerve function, and B-12 for brain development are all a part of eating a balanced diet. But one in eight homes in the United States do not have food stability. Children are showing up to school hungry, and they aren’t getting the nutrition they need at home.
Children, like adults, can’t fully concentrate on their work if they stomachs are growling. Without the ability to focus on school work, students without enough food are falling behind. Not only that, behavior and mood are affected by unmet dietary needs. When well fed, students are less likely to be tired and grumpy, which helps to keep them out of trouble.
Knowing the powerful impact food can have performance in school, a greater push needs to take place to provide equal access to nutrition. Not only can student lunches be healthier but programs that offer breakfast can help children start off the day on the right foot. School districts around the nation are implementing simple programs to improve and enhance the food choices. Salad bars where students can take as many fruits and vegetables as they want are one of the easiest places to start. Breakfast programs, while not everywhere, are taking hold as well.
As communities, schools, and families work together academic and behavioral performance will increase. Hopefully, bringing rising test scores with them.