For teachers, promises of early nights, healthy eating and exercise, a healthy work life balance always feature in the top 5. As parents, we also have similar ambitions for our children. We want the best for them and know that providing a healthy environment is the way forward.
Countless studies over many years have proved again and again that having a healthy breakfast helps students perform better. Students who have healthy breakfasts have better attendance and fewer behavior issues.
A healthy and balanced lunch will give them the energy to continue their learning throughout the afternoon both at school and at home. We have worked very hard with our canteen manager to ensure the food we offer is nutritious and provides a balanced diet for our students. Our school menus are available on our website by following this link.
Studies also show that daily exercise is key to ensuring that the body is functioning at its highest level and also impacts on the well-being of children.
The Children’s Society in the UK published an article earlier this year talking about the wellbeing benefits of exercise. Working with the New Economics Foundation (NEF) they explored the impact of exercise on children’s well being. As part of their ways to well-being research, they carried out a survey with 1,500 10 to 15-year-olds, and found clear evidence of a relationship between physical activity and well-being, especially for non-team sports/exercise.
Children who took part in non-team sports/exercise ‘most days’ or ‘daily’ had significantly higher levels of well-being than those who ‘never’ or ‘hardly ever’ did.
With regards to children’s well-being according to how often they take part in non-team sports and exercise the study found that boys spend more time than girls doing sports and exercise, but interestingly, physical activity is associated with larger increases in well-being for girls.
Sleep or ‘enough sleep’ is also vitally important for a child’s health. According to the National Health Service UK (NHS) and the Millpond Sleep Clinic, children between the ages of 4 and 16 need between 11.5 hrs (aged 4) decreasing by about 15 minutes each year to 9 hours at 16 years of age.
Evidence shows that night time sleep is just as important as healthy eating and exercise for children to develop. Those who don't get enough sleep are more likely to be overweight or obese. This is because they tend to crave and eat sugary or starchy food during the day to give them energy to stay awake.
The key to how much is enough sleep is whether a child gets up fairly easily in the morning, is alert and happy for most of the day, and is not grumpy.
Younger children who are persistently sleep-deprived seem irritable and overactive, seek constant stimulation and don't concentrate well.
These studies are not ‘new news’ to the majority of parents. We know that a healthy lifestyle is key for well-being and successful and happy futures.
So we would like to ask you parents, to support your children in their new school year. Make sure they have a healthy breakfast, ensure they get enough sleep, encourage them to take daily exercise through the clubs on offer or activities beyond school.
Working together we can ensure our students have the healthiest year they can.
Deirdre Grimshaw, Deputy Headteacher, An Phu Primary Campus