​Parents Using Their Heads: Improving the Morning Routine

You've make lunch for Lucy and remembered to grab Timmy’s tuba on the way out the door, but one thing you may not consider during the morning scramble is brain health.

Results show that diet, exercise and rest can help improve cognitive function. That’s why the California Innovations BrainFuel program is helping parents lay a strong foundation for their children’s education.

It features short articles that highlight recent brain research, the impact that sleep and fitness have on mental sharpness, quick tips for packing smarter lunches, and recipes for brain-healthy meals.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

Hit the kitchen- not the snooze button. Research shows that breakfast-eaters have higher school attendance, reduced tardiness, better behavior, and stronger test performance than breakfast-skippers.

Drop the pop. Loaded with high-fructose corn syrup, soda offers a lot of calories and no nutritional value. Stick with the basics: 100 percent juice, almond milk, or plain old water.

Go nuts! Skip the chips and cookie aisles and pick up some nuts instead (allergies aside, of course). Walnuts are high in Omega-3 and antioxidants like vitamin E and vitamin B6.

Focus on fitness. Experts believe exercise fuels learning, but they’re not sure how. According to Dr. John J. Ratey, clinical associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, "Exercise itself doesn't make you smarter, but it puts the brain of the learners in the optimal position for them to learn." Studies show that exercise enables cells to sprout synapses, which are crucial to forming connections the brain needs in order to learn.

Get quality shut-eye. "Even minor changes in sleep... can impair a school kid's learning, memory, attention [and] concentration," says researcher Avi Sadeh, DSc, director of the Laboratory for Children's Sleep and Arousal Disorders at Tel Aviv University.

Taking time to implement these tips for your children may mean a big step up in their brain health and performance at school.