School Breakfast Clubs – Snap, Crackle and Top of the class
We are all no doubt well versed in the mantra that ‘‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day’’, well it could be argued with little opposition – given the scientific and statistical evidence supporting it – that for school children nationwide breakfast actually represents something that is hard to place a value on with its impact lasting far beyond early school years…
The science is reliable and the anecdotal evidence from teachers, parents and pupils alike is substantial and only serves to support the findings of countless pieces of research. Subsequently, there is simply no arguing with the fact that eating a balanced breakfast helps to increase focus, as the brain does not need to occupy itself with the thoughts of lunch and rumblings from the stomach. This allows school children to focus fully on their lessons and get the most out of their schooling all the way through until lunch time and their next refuel.
Moreover, when you consider that waking from a ‘‘goods night sleep’’ is effectively your body emerging from a 8 -10 hour fast – which has left your body starving and depleted of nutrition- it is perhaps no surprise to hear that people who don’t eat breakfast find themselves cranky and abrupt with co-workers in the office and school children find themselves involved in lesson disruption. When we consider the importance of overall good nutrition on growing children the importance of replacing the calories lost during sleep is even more prevalent so free school meals and breakfast clubs.
Beyond the obvious benefits within school classes in ensuring children get some sort of breakfast before the morning bell rings it is useful to look forward into the futures of these children and assess the impact that a good breakfast can have on their well-being when they leave school and take the next step in their lives. The long-term impact on eating a nutritious breakfast can include a healthier metabolism, better portion control, a healthier weight and lower ‘‘bad’’ cholesterol (LDL), all of which can help children grow and develop into healthy adults long after they leave school and give them good habits for life.
A study of 5,000 nine to 11-year-olds – across 100 primary schools across Wales – which was carried out by Cardiff University concluded that children who eat a breakfast before school are twice as likely to score highly on tests, compared to children starting the day with empty stomachs.
This research tends to echo the messages that have been coming from school teachers for a long time as they have long recognised that an increased focus in class, higher achievement and improved punctuality are all tangible benefits of a child eating a breakfast, either at home and or at a school breakfast club, before a day of learning and activity begins.
It was also reported in a 2016 study, involving 106 primary schools in disadvantaged areas, that the provision of breakfast clubs resulted in an overall improvement in pupil performance
There were improved results in maths and literacy which ran alongside an overall improvement in pupil attitudes to learning and school attendance.
The decisions made by Government as to what provisions schools should make for their children in terms of free meals and breakfast clubs.