A lot of times when preparing our children for their examinations, we worry so much if they have done enough revision, practice questions and sample papers. We sometimes overlook that to ensure they have a sharp mind, they also need a healthy body to function efficiently and these can be achieved if we take care of the 5 areas below.
These 5 areas are:
- Are they hydrated enough?
- Are they getting enough sleep?
- Are they eating a balanced diet?
- Do they exercise at all?
- Are they managing stress well?
1) Why is hydration important in brain function?
There have been studies supporting the fact that if you don’t stay hydrated throughout the day, your brain function and energy level will suffer.
One study in women showed that a fluid loss of 1.36 percent after exercise impaired mood and concentration and increased the frequency of headaches.
Another study in China that followed 12 men in university found that not drinking water for 36 hours had noticeable effects on fatigue, attention and focus, reaction speed, and short-term memory.
Below is a guideline to how much water one needs based on age. Do note also the activity that one does as well as the weather plays a part in how much water one’s body requires.
|Demographic||Daily recommended amount of water|
|Children 4 -8 years old||5 cups|
|Children 9- 13 years old||7- 8 cups|
|Children 14 – 18 years old||8 – 11 cups|
1 cup = 237 ml
In general, children and teens need about 6 to 8 cups of water a day. They should also eat lots of fresh fruits and veggies, which are full of water. During play or exercise, a good goal is to drink a half cup to 2 cups of water every 15 to 20 minutes.
2) How much sleep does your child need?
Sleep is when the body and mind recharges. When you are recharged you will feel refreshed and alert when you wake up. Healthy sleep also helps the body remain healthy and prevent diseases and most importantly without enough sleep, the brain cannot function properly. How much sleep is enough sleep?
The amount of sleep one needs depends on various factors, more significantly age. While sleep needs vary significantly among individuals, consider these general guidelines for different age groups:
|1 – 4 weeks||15 – 16|
|1 – 4 months||14 – 15|
|4 – 12 months||14 – 15|
|1 – 3 years||12 – 14|
|3 – 6 years||10 – 12|
|7 – 12 years||10 – 11|
|12 – 18||8 – 9|
3) What makes up a balance diet?
Having a healthy body will definitely help in having a sharper mind and these are also dependent on having healthy eating habits. What is considered a balanced diet? A balanced diet is one where it includes a variety of sources of food. The easiest guide will be to use “The Healthy Plate” as recommended by the Singapore Health Promotion Board. For further reading, you can refer to this website: https://www.healthhub.sg/programmes/55/my-healthy-plate and my tiktok video https://vt.tiktok.com/ZSe1pqBCt/ for a simple and quick explanation of what the components of a balanced diet is.
4) How to insert exercise in your child’s schedule?
Exercise affects the brain in many ways. It increases heart rate, which pumps more oxygen to the brain. It aids the release of hormones which provide an excellent environment for the growth of brain cells. Exercise also promotes brain plasticity by stimulating growth of new connections between cells in many important cortical areas of the brain.
I understand that it is tough to be able to bring the children outdoors in this pandemic period. Some suggestions would be, dancing, zumba, aerobics, tik tok dances, skipping which could all be done indoors.
5) Managing stress.
Below are 5 strategies you can teach your child in managing stress other than ensuring enough sleep and exercise.
Talk it out
Make time to chat with your child, preferably one-on- one because you will never know the kind of stress or struggles he or she may have. One-to-one chats give them the privacy and space to share with you without apprehension.
Allow them also some time to chat with their friends on the phone or social media as they may be more comfortable and relaxed with peers their age. Do set some limits in terms of the duration they spend as well as the time of the day that they chat as we would want them to still stick to a schedule and discipline.
Make time for fun or quiet time
Drawing, dancing, singing or even allow them that space to be alone.
It is tough to allow for much outside time in these pandemic times but 30 minutes of just a walk around the block with mask on may allow some time for de stressing.
Some children may not be as expressive verbally so do encourage them to write about their feelings or even draw them out.
By definition “Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.” It may be too abstract to be explained to a child but a skill I feel we can teach our older adolescents especially those of the age of middle adolescence and above. Simply, it is about being fully aware one self, in other words also the ability to focus fully on one task.
In summary, ensuring a child performs well academically takes more than just working on their academic ability but their well-being; physically and psychologically. It helps when we as parents are able to see things from a holistic point of view.
Note: For a summary and bitesize takeaways of each area, do check out my videos on www.tiktok.com/coachayuasi