If you aren’t worried about your child’s water consumption at school, you should be. Research abounds regarding the positive benefits of regular water consumption in schools, such as improved physical health and even cognitive functioning. Yet many children, for a variety of reasons, don’t drink enough water during the school day, and that could lead to serious health problems in the future.
Parents should be aware how much water their children are drinking in a day. Here’s what you need to know, and how you can advocate for your child’s well-being.
How water helps kids during the school day
Kids get thirsty. Water fountains are installed throughout most public schools, but they may not adequately cover the needs of all students. And given a choice, most kids prefer soda to water.
In schools where soft drinks are widely available, children may develop a habit of consuming these beverages instead of water – this is most common among middle-school and high-school students. Some states have laws prohibiting the sale of soft drinks in schools, but juice, chocolate milk and other drinks served in the cafeteria still may be full of sugar.
After exercise, it’s especially important that children have access to water. Thirsty kids may be prone to distraction and unable to concentrate on their schoolwork. Dehydration also can cause dizziness and low blood pressure.
When the rules negatively impact your children
Many schools don’t allow students to bring water bottles to school. While intended to minimize distractions and prevent illicit substances from being smuggled in and consumed, this can have serious consequences in the classroom. Children may not be consuming water throughout the day, due to limited access to water fountains.
Defending your child’s right to water
If you are proactive in addressing this issue, you might be able to score a victory for your children and their classmates. First, talk to your child’s teacher about the current classroom rules. Providing access to water can be as simple as having a pitcher or water dispenser in the classroom.
Find out what protocol to follow that would enable your child to take an empty water bottle to school, such as filing a note of permission with the school’s main office. Be firm in your request and cite the health implications of not drinking water throughout the day. At the very least, ask if there are other water sources in the school – like a refrigerator water dispenser – that would allow your child access to clean, filtered water. A few quick stops at the water fountain simply can’t provide adequate hydration for every student in the school.
It may seem like a trivial concern, but water consumption is a serious matter that shouldn’t be ignored. Although school rules may be designed with good intent, they might be overlooking the negative consequences of such restrictions. Don’t be afraid to be a parent that approaches the school and advocates for your children. If you won’t, don’t expect anyone to do it for you.