As I am sure you have seen by now I am taking part in the Kelloggs Breakfasts for Better Days Challenge. This week I am skipping breakfast for 4 days in a row and sharing my journey with you. Honestly it has been HARD. I am not one to just grab a coffee in the morning and run out the door. Normally I always eat breakfast, so I am finding myself struggling more with my mood, I am quicker to snap at the kids and don’t have as much patience. We really take for granted the affect 1 bowl of cereal and some fruit can have on our whole day.
The Kellogg’s Breakfasts for Better Days survey found that teachers reported that hungry students lost an average of 104 minutes of learning every single day. That adds up to 61 days of class time lost each year – decreased concentration and participation are just some of the consequences of going to school hungry. But it can be hard to wrap your head around what it means to not have a healthy breakfast every day if you are not there to see it first hand. I asked one my my best friends “L” who is a high school teacher if she dealt with issues stemming from kids coming to school hungry, here is what she had to say:
When I tell people that I teach high school, I get some of the most amusing looks of sympathy. No one could fathom why I would want to “put up” with the modern teenager. Honestly, teenagers are not to be “put up” with – they are a delightful mix of children and adults who need a respectful amount of nurturing and freedom. Once a child heads to high school, certain things are taken for granted both at home, and at school. Most people believe that high school aged students know how to take care of themselves in the most basic manner, but sometimes something as simple as eating breakfast is missed – and this affects their entire day; their ability to think and focus, and their ability to react to the plethora of additional social and physical pressures of growing up.
The students that I work with on a daily basis often have a variety of reasons why they do not eat wholesome breakfasts; which range from lack of healthy variety of foods at home, to lack of time, living in poverty, to social stress about eating and dieting.
Encouraging a solid, healthy breakfast increases the student’s ability to focus, cope and participate in the classroom, socially, and intellectually. Whenever I have a student who is having a particularly bad day, I usually ask what they had for breakfast, and most often than not I hear, “nothing,” or a variety of junk food. This is all that they had time for in the morning, before spending an hour on the bus to get to their school. Prepared, or junk, food is easy to grab, and it tastes good with little mess or clean up. It is harder to grab a bowl of cereal while running out the door, or even an apple, because eating it on the bus means holding the bowl or core for the rest of the drive. The staff in our school recognized this a few years ago as a major indicator of behavioural issues in the classroom, and they have received funding and support for a snack program, in order to provide healthy snacks between morning classes for students. This has supported those students who either have nothing in their bellies all morning, or who had to eat very early and have difficulty making it to lunch. As an adult, I know what happens to me when my blood sugar drops… why would we expect any difference from the children that we work with on a daily basis. We can’t sit back and assume that these students are going to recognize why they are in a foul mood, we can’t assume that they have the money to buy food in the cafeteria, or are able to bring anything from home. Often times those kids we pegged as “too cool” for breakfast will be the first ones in line for a healthy snack – because they know that they feel better after eating, and whether you believe it or not – all kids want to learn, they want to succeed, some of them just don’t know it yet.
Disclosure: This post was brought to you by Kelloggs. All opinions are strictly my own.