McDonald's offers free FCAT breakfast again
Next week, and through April 22, Florida school kids will be be taking the FCAT test. The high-stakes tests determine their school's grades, their teachers' bonuses and in some cases whether the kids move ahead a grade or graduate. For the second year, more than 800 McDonald's franchises in the state are stepping up with a free breakfast on Monday to fuel up the brain cells.
Students in grades 3 through 11 will receive a free Egg McMuffin, apple dippers and a low-fat milk or orange juice on Monday between 6 and 9 a.m. In 2010, more than 190,000 students across the state – including over 40,000 in the Tampa Bay area alone – took the Golden Arches up on the FCAT breakfast.
Regardless of your stance on the politics of this test, it can't hurt to help your kids do their best. FCAT scores carry a lot of weight. Schools are graded by how well students perform and schools that maintain an A or improve one letter grade are eligible for financial rewards from the state. Schools judged to be failing can be penalized by the state.
We scoured education and pediatrics sites to find tips for you to help your kids do their best in school. Most researchers say it's best to steer clear of the sugary, white-flour breakfasts, at least not without a protein pairing of some sort. Sugars tend to spike blood sugar and leave them hungry too quickly. Your best bets: oatmeal (even the brown sugar kind) because it gets absorbed slowly by the body. Also a protein and whole grain combo like eggs with toast, peanut butter and fruit with a glass of milk.
But the best advice is getting a good night's sleep. One of the tips to getting the kids settled down and conked out is taking them outside and playing hard to work off any nerves and wear out their bodies so they fall into a deep restful sleep.
And my very best tip, having endured FCAT week for six times so far, is to relax. Nothing makes me sadder than to see a kid stressed out about this test. I've actually been able to get my kids to love FCAT week. The teachers make sure they get extra recess (something sorely lacking the rest of the year to make time for FCAT prep); there's often snacks to fuel up the brains and no homework to encourage early bedtimes and rest. If I had a nervous test-taker, I'd try to focus on those positives there.
Focus on having fun at home, taking time to unwind, getting some sleep and eating healthy.
-- Sharon Kennedy Wynne
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