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Ways parents can help their child (Part 3 Routines & Habits)

This is the final blogpost in a series about how parents can support their children. In the last two posts we talked about the benefits of reading and how to support your child with maths. This post talks about building routines, particularly focussing on building the habit of having breakfast. Importance of Routines Helping a child build a routine supports child development. It helps children feel safe and gives them a sense of control. Building a routine enables them to anticipate what is going to happen next and gives them a sense of emotional stability. It helps build trust and gives children confidence (e.g. to play, explore and learn). Building a routine can help with behaviour and build social and language skills (children can learn how to communicate, how to behave at breaks and lunchtime, to take turns, how to greet etc.). Routines can also help children transition from one activity to the next. It thus helps with learning enabling children to build life skills, such as basic hygiene (e.g. washing hands before meals) (ZerotoThree, 2010). Routines also bring families closer together. Think of routines your family may have (e.g. Christmas, Thanks Giving, Chanukah). You probably remember and cherish these memories and even want to pass them down to your children (Schoolhouse, date unknown). Aha! asks a very good question "Won't too much structure dull our sense of spontaneity and creativity?" However, even artists are known for building routines to create. Turner Prize winner Chris Ofili has a routine whereby everyday between 9 and 10am he arrives at his London studio to create. Rauschenberg began his day watching television. For more information visit Abigail Cain's article "The Morning Routines of Famous Artists, from Andy Warhol to Louise Bourgeois". It's not only artists though who build routines. Brianna Wiest talks about the daily routines of famous people from Barack Obama to Steve Jobs. To give our children the best future shouldn't we be helping them form good routines? Habit of breakfast According to British Nutrition Foundation "one in four secondary school children say they start the day without breakfast, and over two thirds (65 percent) of children aged 5 to 16 years are not drinking enough". This was taken from a survey of 8,800 school children (British Nutrition Foundation, date unknown). Skipping breakfast in adolescents has been linked to young people feeling "dissatisfied with their body shape" and that they feel they need to lose weight (Shaw, 1998). Other reasons include people's busy life style, there is simply no time to have breakfast, or people feel simply not hungry (Shaw, 1998). Another reason is poverty and it is not only children skipping, it is parents as well. A study by "a coalition of anti-food poverty charities" found "23 percent of parents with children aged 18 and under skip or see someone in their household skipping a meal due to lack of money for food" (Bulman, 2018). Bulman says it is worse in parents with primary school-aged children, 27 per cent. Yet breakfast provides key macronutrients and micronutrients important for development, maintains a healthy weight and prevents binge eating behaviour later in the day. A University of Leeds 2019 study found "children who do not eat breakfast may end up scoring less in their academics" by a fifth of a grade (Gupta, 2019). It can help with alertness, concentration, mental performance, mood and even memory. Skipping breakfast has been linked to long term health risks also. The NHS and The Sun reported that "skipping breakfast may raise risk of heart disease by up to 87 percent" (NHS, 2019). Even if you eat breakfast you may be having an unhealthy breakfast. A "poll of 2000 British adults, conducted by The Co-operative Food, revealed the traditional fry-up" is the UK's meal of choice (Moss, 2014). Other choices, like some breakfast cereals, are high in sugar, which can lead to obesity and diabetes. A healthy breakfast includes fibre, protein and healthy fat and can set you and your child up for the day. If money is difficult, a lot of schools now have breakfast clubs and some families can get free school meals through Government funding. Due to Covid-19 some families have been struggling to get food and may even be entitled to supermarket vouchers (DfE, 2020). Do you think breakfast as a routine

is a good or bad idea? Comment below.

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