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(ARA) - Excitement for the new school year is growing, and whether it's preschool or high school, all parents want their children to do well both academically and socially. Parents can do some simple things at home to help set their children on the right path to reach their full potential.
Dr. Keri Marshall is a mother, licensed naturopathic doctor and school lunch nutritional advocate. Here are her top tips for parents who want to give their kids a great start in the classroom.
1. Eat a balanced breakfast
Children's bodies and developing brains need healthy nutrition to grow. That's why breakfast is so important after a good night's rest - it helps your child feel energized and productive and supports him in a way that enables him to have a positive day. Skipping breakfast can leave your child feeling sluggish and irritable, and may even promote nausea and headaches. Some studies have shown that routinely skipping meals can lead to obesity because children will seek more calories later in the day.
Start the day off right and give your kids a healthy breakfast that includes protein, fruit and whole grains. A balanced breakfast will leave them feeling satisfied until lunch so they can focus on academic and social skills while at school. Include foods such as whole grain toast or oatmeal, fruits like berries, bananas and apples, and protein-rich options like eggs, yogurt and milk.
2. Start every day with healthy essential fats: omega-3s
You may have heard of EPA and DHA as omega-3 elements in fish oil supplements, but just how critical these are for your child may surprise you. Omega-3s are essential nutrients found in fish oil and have been shown to improve children's cognitive development and support overall good health. Lower levels of omega-3 are associated with behavioral disorders including attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This fatty acid is essential for brain and eye development before birth, and continues to be essential for cognitive development throughout childhood.
Providing adequate levels of omega-3s through a child's diet can be difficult, and studies show that most children (and adults) are deprived of this essential good fat. A fish oil supplement specifically designed for children, such as Nordic Naturals Children's DHA, is a great way to support brain health so children can do well at school. Third-party testing shows Nordic Naturals leads the competition in purity, freshness and absorbability, so you know you're giving your child the best. The natural fruit flavors please even the pickiest palates and because they're chewable, they're easy to eat right along with breakfast.
3. Daily rhythms are essential
Children benefit from having a regular routine each day. These daily rhythms help balance the day so kids can physically and mentally know what to expect. Of course every busy family needs to be flexible, but establishing a routine should be a priority.
Start at night when it's time for bed. Try to put children to sleep at the same time every evening. If you allow for before bedtime activities like reading or baths, start those well ahead of time. A regular nighttime routine will help lead to a regular morning routine where the body wakes up more naturally at the same time each morning, ready for a productive day at school.
4. Make time for exercise
It's likely that your child gets some exercise at school during gym class and recess, but it's important to include exercise and play after school as well. Exercise not only helps kids maintain a healthy weight and encourages muscle and bone strength, it also helps children burn excess energy so they sleep better. Remember, children should exercise for 30 to 60 minutes every day after school.
Exercise for kids can be a lot of fun. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests three different types of physical activity for children: aerobic activity which can include running, biking and dancing; muscle-strengthening activity such as gymnastics or push-ups; and bone-strengthening activity such as jumping rope or soccer.
These tips will help put your child on the path to success for the upcoming school year. Healthy lifestyle choices and good nutrition make all the difference, supporting a healthy body and mind, and may even help your child reach the top of the class.
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