It’s been suggested that children who are mildly dehydrated at school have a low concentration span, impaired fine motor skills and poorer short-term memory. Various bits of research have been done to find out if children who are properly hydrated perform better and are better behaved in school.
Tests have shown that:
- children who had extra water performed visual attention tasks better than those who hadn’t had any extra water*
- children who were given water to drink at school had significantly improved skills such as handwriting and ability to copy text**
- the number of items that children could repeat in sequence was significantly reduced if they became dehydrated ***
- drinking extra water over the course of the school day helped to improve children’s short-term memory ***
60% of a child’s body is made up of water and just a 1% to 2% loss of water means they’re dehydrated. The latest recommendations are that kids should be drinking one to two litres of fluid a day (ideally water or milk), depending on their age and gender:
Lots of soft drinks, fruit juices and smoothies contain too much added sugar, which can cause tooth decay and obesity, so it’s best that children stick to water, low fat milk, or drinks free from added sugar.
by Bob Fear
*Edmonds CJ & Burford D (2009) Should children drink more water?: The effects of drinking water on cognition in children. Appetite 52(3), 776-9. **Booth P et al. (2012) Water supplementation improves visual attention and fine motor skills in schoolchildren. Education and Health 30(3), 75-79. ***Fadda R et al. (2012) Effects of drinking supplementary water at school on cognitive performance in children. Appetite 59(3), 730-7.