Sleep, eat and score well on the FCAT
I'm no fan of the all-important FCAT test, but your school funding can hinge on it. So until they make it better, you might as well do your best to help your child do his best. Students in grades three through 11 will take the reading, math and science portions of the Florida Comprehensive Achievement Test beginning Tuesday and extending into next week.
My kids actually love FCAT week. They don't have any homework. The teachers give them recess or some time to run around and clear the cobwebs. They get snacks for brain food. Why can't school always be like this? If I had a nervous test-taker, I'd try to focus on those positives. Sure it's sad that it takes a dreaded test to bring back things like recess and snack time, but tell your kids to take advantage.
As we told you a few days ago, McDonald's is offering Florida students a free breakfast from 6 to 9 a.m. Tuesday. I have to admit at first envisioning Fast Food Nation and thinking a McGriddle and hash browns sounds like the worst test-day breakfast ever. But what they are offering -- an Egg McMuffin, apple dippers and milk or juice -- isn't bad, according to nutritionists.
For brain food, nutritionists 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. Smoothies are also a fast breakfast and a way to sneak in protein, extra fruit and maybe even a spoonful of wheat germ.
Send in a snack for your child. Or even better, help the teacher out and send in some snacks for the class for the middle of the morning such as apples, whole grain crackers, nuts and cheese snacks (rather than sugary treats or white-flour crackers).
But the best ingredient for success is rest. Research has found getting one hour of vigorous exercise during the day will help them fall asleep faster. So let them play hard before dinner and set the stage for at least 9 hours of sleep.
-- Sharon Kennedy Wynne