What parents need to know about brain.
Our brain is only 2% of our body weight but it uses 20% of our energy and oxygen we take. The brain is about 75% water and when brain works, it uses more and more water. Learning is an activity where the brain works a lot.
So your school going children need to breathe deep (to get oxygen to the brain), drink lots of water and eat well (to supply energy to the brain).
What is deep breathing?
Many of us don’t breathe properly and our brain doesn’t get enough oxygen. We mostly breathe from our chest and our breathing is shallow. Our breathing style is wrong. Practice deep breathing or breathing through the belly to get more oxygen to our cells. The purpose of inhalation is to get the maximum quantity of oxygen into our lungs and the purpose of exhalation is to take out the maximum quantity of unwanted carbon dioxide from our body through the lungs. Only breathing through the stomach, allows us to take in maximum oxygen and give out maximum carbon dioxide with each breath.
How to do deep breathing?
- Sitting cross legged and chanting “aum” is a good way of deep breathing. This helps breathing from the stomach.
- Another way of deep breathing: Sit in a comfortable chair. Keep one hand on the chest and the other hand on the belly. Inhale slowly through the nose and feel the movement of abdomen muscles. Keep the movement of chest muscles to the minimum. Exhale slowly through the lips or through the nose. Feel the abdominal muscles moving out when inhaling and moving out when exhaling. (Can you give image for this? The internet gives many images)
- Deep breathing and calming exercise. Ask your child to keep her/his eyes closed and to do deep breathing. After three or four deep breaths ask your child to feel the calmness in and around her/him. After three/four deep breathing, again suggest that the child could feel the calmness. Allow the child to continue deep breathing. After three/four deep breathing, once again suggest to your child that she/ he is very calm. Let the child continue deep breathing. Ask the child to gently open her/his eyes. The time taken would be only around 5 minutes.
Do this activity once or twice every day. A big advantage of this activity is that the child can be calm after doing deep breathing when he/she feels anxious/ tense. This practice would definitely help your child to be calm while writing exams.
Need to know more? The internet has plenty of useful material on this topic. A good option is to consult a yoga teacher.
Drink plenty of water throughout the day.
As mentioned above, our brain uses water when it works. Water gives energy to our brain. For proper functioning of the brain, many chemicals are produced in the brain (neurotransmitters). Water is needed in the brain for making chemicals. The loss of water makes the brain feel tired. So drinking water throughout the day is a smart thing to do. Many children don’t drink enough water.
Why drink one or two glasses of water soon after waking? When we wake up our brain is very tired and it doesn’t have enough water. ( See the section: What happens when we sleep?) Drinking water gives energy to our brain.
Drinking water in the morning also helps to move the bowels and healthy bowel movements are good for the brain. The water you drink in the morning put pressure in the intestines and helps bowel movement. Constipation is not good for your child’s brain.
There is belief that drinking soda, coffee, juice, and tea is as good as drinking water. This belief is not correct. There is no substitute for drinking water.
Make your child drink water throughout the day. Let your child drink water before sitting for study. Before entering the exam hall the child can drink some water.
Water does many things in our brain- it activates the nerves and cells in the
brain and brings nutrients to the brain. It also removes toxins (poisonous substances) from the brain. It is better to drink boiled and cooled water. Drink normal water- water at room temperature.
Totally avoid aerated drinks, soft drinks such as cola, Pepsi, Thumps up, mirinda, frooti etc. These drinks are harmful.
Why eating a good breakfast is important for students?
Research has shown that children who eat a healthy breakfast perform better in studies than those children who skip or don’t have a proper breakfast. The children, who eat a healthy breakfast, can concentrate better throughout the day. They are more alert and listen well. They make fewer mistakes while doing maths problems. Children with attention disorder (ADHD) should have a healthy breakfast.
Why we should eat as early as possible?
When we wake up after a night’s sleep, the brain is very tired. It doesn’t have enough water and it needs oxygen. Brain cannot store energy and most of the energy is already used while sleeping. (Read the section, What happens when we sleep?) When we wake up, the brain is looking for more energy and we can give energy to the brain by taking an early breakfast.
What is a healthy breakfast?
We give our children breakfast primarily made of grains- carbohydrates. We can add a bit of protein- egg/milk/nuts to the breakfast. A handful of sprouts can give nutrients and enzymes to the body. Eating bananas is good for your children. (To know more see the section: Foods for the brain – under construction.)
Prepare your child to face the school. 1. Make her/him drink water. 2. Make her/him do deep breathing. 3. Make her/him eat a healthy breakfast.
Do the above three activities especially on a day when your child has an xam or a class test.
Also read the section: Physical activities/exercises to boost your child’s brain – under construction.