Once again, McDonald's is offering a free breakfast for students around the state as they head into a week of taking the all-important FCAT tests — and this year teachers get a meal too.
Students in grades 3 through 11 will take the reading, math and science portions of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test beginning Monday, and testing officially extends through April 26.
McDonald's will be serving a free breakfast on the first day of testing from 6 to 9 a.m. This year, teachers are also being offered the complimentary breakfast, redeemable by showing a valid teacher ID card.
The breakfast includes an Egg McMuffin, a choice of 1 percent milk or a small orange juice, and a package of apple slices. Nutritionists say it's a pretty healthy choice. And did we mention free?
Students under age 15 must be accompanied by a parent and be present to receive the free breakfast.
While teachers work on prepping students' minds, parents need to work on prepping their stomachs.
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.
Another tip? 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.