Nutrition And Childhood Development – Is There More To It Than Meets The Eye?

A worrying trend has manifested over the past decade in the form of a growing concern about the levels of quality of our children’s academic education. Many parents, across all strata of society, have come forward questioning whether the current educational system is inadequate and whether it prepares our children for the future. The sad truth is that these parents aren’t altogether wrong. Schools are a mirror to society, and a multitude of factors affect our children’s educational environment. Obvious factors like teacher’s training and vocational aptitudes are compounded by less obvious ones such as the impact that nutrition has on intellectual development and educational performance.

What role does nutrition play childhood development?

Our children’s quality of life, including their eventual integration into society as prosperous and well-adjusted individuals, is undeniably linked to nutrition. By ensuring that our children have access to sound nutritional practices from childhood, we can guarantee that they grow to be healthy individuals as well as significantly lower the risk of them developing preventable diseases such as atherosclerosis, obesity, and diabetes.

Does nutrition affect intellectual development?

There is no questioning that malnutrition radically affects school performance and childhood intellectual development. Conditions such as iron and zinc deficiencies can eventually lead to anaemia, stunted cerebral growth, impaired immune response, and even hypogonadism; all of which have been repeatedly associated with lower intellect. In fact, clinical studies have shown that malnutrition can reduce a child’s adult IQ scores by up to 15 points.

A child with a poor nutritional environment is several times more likely to be held back a grade than his better-fed contemporaries. Moreover, there is strong evidence to suggest that the earlier the child begins to benefit from nutritional programs, the higher their development will be. Therefore, it is imperative that parents seek to include these practices early and with the support of their children’s early education centres.


Settling your child into child care

Worried about the best way to help get your child started with going to a child care centre? Perhaps you’re worried about separation anxiety? By following the tips below you can help to ensure that your child has a smooth experience in beginning their next chapter at Discovery Tree.

Preparing your child beforehand

Getting your child used to a daily routine is a good first step. Suddenly finding out that they can’t eat lunch until a certain time or that they must play outside at a certain time may come as quite a shock to a child which, in turn, can be upsetting. By gradually turning the days into a more routine experience, you can help prepare and train your child to begin to subconsciously plan for certain events such as a set lunch time to occur throughout the day. This will allow them to better deal with more structured environments that they will encounter both in child care and throughout daily life as they grow.

Dealing with separation anxiety

Separation anxiety is the common and normal fear that children have of being away from their parents or carers. If you’re leaving your child in a new setting – child care centre, preschool, friend’s house, babysitter – spend time at the new place with your child before the separation. Your child will be less distressed if they are left in a safe, familiar place with familiar people they trust.

Tips and tricks for a smooth transition

  • When you drop your child off, say goodbye briefly – don’t drag it out.
  • Make sure to seem relaxed and happy when you’re leaving. If you seem worried or sad, your child might think the place isn’t safe and can get upset too.
  • Make a conscious effort to foster your child’s self-esteem by complimenting them and giving them lots of positive attention.
  • No matter how frustrated you feel, avoid criticising or being negative about your child’s difficulty with separation. For example, avoid saying things like ‘Don’t be such a baby’.
Kindergarten Clayton South

How does social interaction affect a child’s development?

Social interaction is one of the most important aspects of any child’s development. The benefits will have a lifelong effect on the child and by making sure that they are given a chance for social interaction early,  it is ensured that the child will have a solid foundation for their social skills as they grow and eventually become an adult. By using a child care service which encourages social interaction early on a child can gain the following benefits:

Learning to Work with Others

Teamwork is a skill that will be useful throughout life, and it is founded on the principles of sharing, communicating, compromising, and working towards common goals. As children play together in supervised learning environments such as child care, they will begin to understand the appropriate tactics for working well with others.

Developing Communication Skills with Child Care

While early communication skills are developed by imitating adults, children also need to learn to communicate verbally with peers. Social interaction from an early age is a key factor in learning to speak effectively for clear communication. Through communication with others at places like child care, kids also gain a sense of self and learn to identify as individuals, which is a normal part of the developmental process for toddlers.

Understanding Social Cues

Non-verbal communication is another important component of social interaction for children. As kids play and learn together, they will begin to understand emotions expressed through facial expressions and body language. Not only will this be valuable in knowing what others are feeling, but it is also helpful for children who are just learning to express themselves.

Building friendships

Friendships are critical for young children, and they are only built through regular social interactions. Because children do not have innate problem solving and conflict resolution skills at young ages, guided social interactions are helpful in forging friendships that will be necessary for building confidence and self-esteem.

Should all children be given the same amount of social interaction?

Things aren’t always so simple. Just as in the adult world no two children are the same. They will all have different levels of comfort as well as enjoyment in how they handle social situations. Children who are more introverted for example may benefit and get more enjoyment from less social interaction than other children. They may find it more comfortable to only have 2 or 3 close friends rather than being part of a larger group. On the other hand, children who are more extroverted may enjoy being around their peers for longer periods of time and may enjoy themselves more in a bigger group. Additionally, it is also important to consider the needs of children who may have a mental health condition such as autism spectrum disorder. These children may have a very tough time in social situations and additional care should be given in assisting these children to allow them to interact with others in a way that still allows them to feel safe and comfortable.