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Arkansas State University

Improving Health Can Improve Learning

Psychologist Abraham Maslow famously identified a hierarchy of needs for human beings. According to his research, human beings must meet their physiological needs before they can move on to concentrating on learning new things. It is this research that can help teachers understand how health in the classroom is key to improving learning. Children whose physiological needs go un-met in their home environments need their teachers to meet those needs before their students can succeed academically.

Exercise Is Important for Health

When teachers and parents give children time outside to play and move their bodies, the children can learn more efficiently. Periodic short bursts of movement can reset the body to an improved mode of learning in the classroom. This movement is essential if teachers are to help maintain students’ health in the classroom.

Water Is Crucial to Brain and Body Functions

Water is even more important than food for maintaining health. A child’s body uses water to maintain every organ, including the skin. Studies of the brain have shown that drinking water is the single best way to maintain brain health and efficiency. Teachers who insist that their students drink water are more likely to meet their goals in improving learning.

Food Gives Us Energy and the Ability to Focus

The Food Research & Action Center shows that children who skip breakfast are less functional than other students. They have trouble with self-regulation, cognitive functioning, and processing rules and questions. Children who eat healthy food just prior to learning experiences show improved academic and social success. When parents or teachers make sure that students eat breakfast before starting the school day, they help the students to feel safer and more secure, which improves overall health.

Schools play a critical role in helping students improve their health and reducing the effects of poor health habits. Children whose teachers work hard to improve health in the classroom will do better in school and are more likely to stay in school and graduate.

Learn more about Arkansas State University’s Online Master of Science in Education in Curriculum & Instruction.


FRAC: Research Brief: Breakfast for Learning

Psychology Today: Why Your Brain Needs Water

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Health & Academics

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