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Is your child ready to learn?

· Learn,Lifestyle,advice

This article was also published in the Over60 magazine.

It’s that time of the year again in Australia when parents are preparing to send their children back to school.

Most parents are busy buying school uniforms, school shoes, books, folders, pencil cases, pencils, glitter pens, highlighters, name tags, lunch boxes, water bottles and the list goes on!

I remember those days… prepping your child for the first day of school was important. They needed to fit in, they needed to have what everyone else had. They needed the latest craze in lunch boxes, water bottles, pencil cases, pencils, and so on, and the labels had to be just right! I’m sure most of you can relate to that.

Many parents are also aware of preparing their child psychologically. They are busy chatting with their child at bedtime about the importance of being comfortable with who they are, and the importance of treating others the way they would like to be treated, like… being kind, respectful and understanding.

These parents are also explaining the importance of being polite and inclusive and not excluding anyone and the concept of sharing with everyone.

 

While all of that is very important, allow me to share with you what else is important…

Having spent over twenty years helping my own daughter with her ADHD and dyslexia, and having spent several years conducting research in the area of Paediatric ADHD and of course, reading a lot of articles written by very dedicated researchers, I have come to the conclusion that there are 4 pillars that underpin learning…

 

1 EATING well

2 EXERCISING

3 RELAXING

4 SLEEPING

Let’s discuss one point at a time…

Over the last 10 – 15 years research has revealed that dietary factors influence mental function. For example, a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids is good for supporting cognitive processes in humans.

Here is a small list of foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids that are great for your child’s brain:

fresh ocean caught salmon, tuna and trout, walnuts, flaxseed, oatmeal, pumpkin seeds, cod liver oil, flaxseed oil, yoghurt, eggs, Brussels sprouts, kale, mint, parsley, spinach and watercress.

Did you know that one researcher has gone as far as calling exercise ‘brain food’. Exercise not only improves the body but it also enhances the brain and improves the executive function areas of the brain. These areas are responsible for planning, attention, focus, memory and multi-tasking.

Here is a small list of exercise activities that are great for your child’s brain: table tennis, yoga, Tai Chi, dancing, swimming, walking, cycling, skipping, hiking and just running around in nature.

Research in the area of relaxation has shown that relaxation techniques are good for both the body and the brain. Relaxation practices help improve mood, concentration and focus, they relieve anxiety, decrease mild depression, fatigue, tension and insomnia.

Here is a small list of relaxation techniques that are great for your child’s brain: meditation, yoga, breathing techniques, progressive muscle relaxation and Tai Chi.

A lot of research into the quality and quantity of sleep and sleep hygiene (i.e. sleep routine) has uncovered the importance of sleep, for both the body and the brain.

Children who are sleep deprived struggle to concentrate at school. Their focus and attention are compromised and as such so is their learning. Researchers have also found that during the sleep cycle the brain consolidates learning. In other words, during sleep, your child’s brain is bringing together the teachings of the day.

I’m hoping this information will also help you prepare your child for school.

Just a side note, this healthy advice is great for everyone, young, old, middle-aged and every age in between. So why not be a great role model for your child.

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