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Healthy Lunches and Happy Learning

The fact is, students who eat healthier meals perform better academically, but parents can’t be at school to make sure their kids make good food choices. Here’s some advice to help you help them get the right nutrients.
Published: 07/14/2020

Over the years, schools have tried a lot of different things to help students improve their learning skills and maintain attention. They’ve tried banning cellphones, extending school days, giving bonuses to educators whose students receive the highest test scores, lots of things.

But telling students not to use tech in the classroom can sometimes have the opposite effect. Longer days can lead to burnout, and bonuses, while appreciated, can also instill unhealthy competition and create an unfair standard given the different learning styles of students).

Though schools try many things to improve learning, one adjustment resurfaces again and again: school lunches.

Healthier meals can raise student achievement by about 4 percentage points.

A recent study conducted by UC Berkeley revealed that students who ate healthier lunches performed better on state tests. In fact, healthier meals can raise student achievement by about 4 percentage points.

Not only does healthy eating help reduce the likelihood of health problems down the road, it also improves overall mood and boosts energy. With all of these apparent benefits, what can you do to ensure your children are getting the right nutrients to tackle the school day?

Making Lunch With Your Child

Creating healthy lunches can also be a fun and engaging activity for you and your child to do together. It allows you to teach them about the importance of healthy eating. Routine is important in a student’s life, so making meals can be a good constant in your daily schedule.

Unsure where to start? Here are some tips for making healthy lunches:

Make a plan. Find time to sit down with your child and tell them about this new fun activity you two can do together. Start brainstorming some good lunch ideas, and help your child create a list. As a bonus, suggest going to the store to pick out a brand new lunch box. Find an insulated one or a lunch box with a freezer pack.

Go grocery shopping. Get your child involved in going to the grocery store with you. Talk to your child about the things you’re buying and why they are beneficial. Let your child do some picking too, so it feels like a group activity and they are involved. However, make sure their choices still fall into healthy parameters.

Remind them to eat. When students are on their own, they can sometimes get caught up in talking with friends or doing other activities. Encourage your child to sit and eat when they are at school. If you are nervous about your child eating their lunch, talk to your child’s educator to make sure they are getting the chance to eat enough before starting other activities.

The important thing to remember when making lunches is to offer a wide variety of options to your child. Try mixing and matching different combinations, and searching for new lunch recipes online. Don’t forget to ask your child for their feedback as well!

For some tasty and easy lunch combinations, start here.


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The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.