Thirty percent of the school population has learning problems, and addressing the problem with creative school financing, innovative technology and teaching methods have not been successful in meeting the demand for an appropriate education for these populations. Even the new innovative Federal programs such as Race to the Top will have limited success because they focus on the symptom: a lack of learning.
With 30 states reporting in a recent study that 30 percent of their children are obese and some reporting a high incidence of toxins in the drinking water, it is safe to say that the problem is a matter of public health.
Children live in a world full of toxins, limited exercise, lack of sleep, fast foods, and loads of time alone caused by the need for parents to work two jobs to make ends meet. The consequence is severe allergies and retarded neurological development caused by a toxic environment, obesity from a lack of exercise, limited emotional security, and an inability to learn due to a lack of sufficient nutrients to keep the brain functioning properly.
Research indicates that a learning disability is a deficiency in neural development that impedes learning, and children cannot learn if the brain and central nervous system do not have the neural connections necessary for learning to take place. Lack of sleep, lack of proper nutrition and a trend toward obesity all contribute to this condition.
Children need to be protected from their environment, and receive a proper diet and social structure so that they are prepared to learn when they get to school. Proper diet, exercise and adequate sleep will go a long way toward preventing new problems and modifying some existing ones.
In a September 2005 study published by the Georgia Prevention Institute at the Medical College of Georgia, behavioral scientists and doctors learned that obese children who increased their physical activity level by as much as 20 minutes three times per week scored significantly higher on a cognitive assessment systems test than obese children who did not.
Not only were the children who played and exercised better at problem solving and retaining information, but they were also physically healthier and they had more fun. Dieticians have great suggestions, but common sense also works. Eat a healthy breakfast, and rather than large portions, enjoy five smaller meals a day to increase metabolism. Drink water rather than soda, and don’t forget about the fruits and vegetables. There is no substitute for parenting, and there is no replacement for proper diet, exercise and good sleep habits to enhance a child’s readiness for learning.