When we think about children’s educational successes, there are a lot of factors that immediately come to mind. Things like teacher quality and a child’s own intellectual abilities are obvious ones. So it may come as a surprise to some that breakfast is another essential component to education. Facilitating and expanding school breakfast programs in order to make sure that all children receive a nutritious morning meal has been shown to increase academic achievement.
To better understand how school breakfast impacts the success of children, researchers have collected data that shows the relationship between eating breakfast and learning. Research has found that:
- Children experiencing hunger have lower math scores and are more likely to repeat a grade.
- Children who eat a complete breakfast, versus a partial one, make fewer mistakes and work faster in math and number checking tests.
- Children who eat breakfast at school – closer to class and test-taking time – perform better on standardized tests than those who skip breakfast or eat breakfast at home.
- Children perform better on tests of vocabulary and matching figures after eating breakfast.
- Students who participate in school breakfast programs show improved attendance, behavior, standardized achievement test scores as well as decreased tardiness.
When we look at improving school performance, it is important to recognize that these additional factors outside the classroom play a role. Implementing and improving school breakfast programs in schools is a cost-effective and proven way to increase academic achievement. Research shows how breakfast can impact learning and gives us reason to work toward ensuring that more kids have a healthy morning meal.