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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Could improved nutrition affect my son's low test scores?

"This year on the state test my son dropped two levels from the year before. Do you think what he eats affects how well he does on his testing?

I get this question often from concerned parents. High stakes testing has every parent a little anxious and if their child drops in his scores, there's cause for concern. Nutrition can affect how well you perform on standardized tests, but in two different ways.

Schools know the importance of good nutrition on testing days because they remind parents to make sure their children eat a nutrient-rich breakfast on testing days. Schools often provide water and snacks to students during breaks in the testing day. They also offer a free breakfast for all students regardless of whether they are on a free or reduced breakfast/lunch program or not. So, the short answer is "yes" nutrition affects your child's test scores.

But there's more to it than good nutrition on testing day.

Our brains better retain information and make those all important connections when they are "well fed." In other words, all year long as your children are trying to learn in the classroom, you can set them up to succeed by making sure their developing brains get what they need. Then when testing time comes, it will reflect how well they learned throughout the year. If your child has dropped in his test scores from the year before, it could be because (1) he had a bad test day and possibly didn't eat well that morning, or (2) his eating habits during much of the school year weren't up to par and that was then reflected on his test scores.

Life happens and things change. Maybe your own schedule got out of whack for one reason or another, and you were less able to attend to your child's nutritional needs during this time. For whatever the reason, it's time to re-evaluate how you feed your children and be intentional on feeding the brain what it needs. For more age by age nutritional needs, check out Brain Food: Recipes for Success in School, Sports, Life, now available


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