Water and Children's Health in School
A child needs to be in the best physical state for learning in order for the brain to take in and process new information. Children need to drink water throughout the day to remain hydrated.
Dehydration, combined with irregular intake of fluids and feeling with high concentrate sugar drinks - often laced with additives and preservatives - may prove a deadly cocktail for the young learners in the classroom.
Here are the benefits of appropriate intake of fresh water:
- The brain is 75% water so that even moderate dehydration can cause headaches and dizziness
- Water is required for expiration
- Regulates body temperature
- Carries nutrients and oxygen to all cells in the body
- Blood is 92% water
- Moistens oxygen for breathing
- Protects and cushions vital organs
- Helps to convert food into energy
- Helps body absorb nutrients
- Removes waste
- Bones are 22% water
- Muscles are 75% water
- Cushions joints
Source: The International Bottled Water Association
Find out more about the Water is Cool in School campaign which aims to improve the quality of provision and access to fresh drinking water for children in UK primary and secondary schools at http://www.wateriscoolinschools.org.uk
why keep hydrated
Some have argued that the effect of being allowed to drink water as and when it is needed might in itself be a positive thing. Perhaps having a physical reprieve from focussed attention in classroom learning in order to visit the water dispenser may also be a good thing. Simply having water present may also have a therapeutic value. It does seem that the presence of individual sports type bottles with fresh water individualises water intake choice for classroom learners. This self-regulation may be at the heart of the successes schools report. The practical experience of many UK schools sits alongside recent research which suggests drinking it in the right circumstances is very important.
Try these ideas for helping the youngsters in your class to stay hydrated:
- Educate children about the benefits of drinking water
- Encourage children to bring in a sports bottle of water each day, or install a water cooler in each classroom
- Role model by drinking less tea, soft drinks or coffee yourself - caffeinated drinks act as diuretics
- Include information about the importance of hydration and the school policy about drinks in the school prospectus
- Review what is eaten at break time. Fruits and vegetables can contain as much as 95 percent water
- Install plenty of water fountains
- Keep a glass of water on your desk. Remember that your brain needs water too!
- Do some simple experiments in class that illustrate the poor nutritional value of sugary drinks
- Display posters about the importance of being hydrated
Reproduced with kind permission of Alite(Accelerated Learning in Training and Education)