Students’ well-being is one of the fundamental duties of a good school. But, at times, our students suffer because of oversight on the part of both the school and parents. This negligence, sometimes, is because of lack of communication between teachers and parents. Breakfast, as we all know, is one of the most important meals and it is often said to be the most important meal of the day “eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper”.
Eating a nutritious breakfast sets the tone for the day and promotes weight regulation by maintaining blood glucose levels and our metabolism. A good breakfast fuels us and prepares us for the day ahead. It’s also said that “a good beginning is half the job done”, therefore, it is important to have a good breakfast to have a good beginning of the day.
Breakfast is especially important for younger children, whose brains are still going through rapid cognitive development. But what I’ve observed while meeting parents at PTMs and seeing students in their routine at school is that most of our students, especially, the younger students of Early Years and primary classes, do not take breakfast as a routine meal. Due to this, they cannot and do not perform up to the mark in their activities at school.
On the other hand, the research shows that in general, kids and teens who eat breakfast have more energy, do better in school, and continue to eat more healthily throughout the day. Without breakfast, people can get irritable, restless, and tired. Skipping breakfast doesn’t help in weight-loss as is often wrongly believed rather it’s the other way around. Having no breakfast impairs children’s ability to learn and focus in school and causes them to have lower IQ scores than other children. It is also proved by research that school children who skip breakfast demonstrate great hyper-activity, lower attention span, impaired memory, a slower learning pace, more tardiness and a decreased ability to concentrate and solve problems.
According to a study, eating a large breakfast and a small dinner promote weight loss and reduce risks for diabetes, heart disease and high cholesterol more effectively than eating a small breakfast and a big dinner.
Below are few suggestions for schools and parents to develop in students’ a habit of eating breakfast every morning.
- Schools can co-ordinate with parents and make them realise the importance of this meal for their children. A seminar type of activity or written messages are equally useful.
- School leadership can encourage students who regularly take their breakfast. There are many ways to do this, for example, through assemblies.
- Schools could take the initiative of launching a ‘Breakfast in Class’ programme for their students to promote the habit of eating breakfast every day. For this, 10-15 minutes of the 1st lesson may be invested in this healthy activity. But for this, parents should be involved before-hand, as the students will be asked to bring and eat their breakfast in the class with other students as they do during the lunch break.
I strongly request all schools and parents to focus this important idea for students’ well-being, development and personal progress.
Dr Shireen Nazir Karachi (Dawn, August 12th, 2014)
36 YEARS OF POLLING ON EATING HABITS OF PAKISTANIS (1980-2016)