A staggering 98% of Irish primary teachers* cited having a healthy breakfast as the most important meal of the day for their pupils far exceeding the lunchbox in terms of priority for children in the classroom. The advice to parents comes from a survey among primary school teachers commissioned by Flahavan’s and Keelings to mark the start of National Porridge Week (Monday 10th – Sunday 16th October).
The majority of teachers surveyed (97%) said they notice when their pupils haven’t had a breakfast. The main tell-tale signs are poor concentration (55%) and no energy (43%), but pupils without a breakfast can also be irritable (21%) and restless in class (19%). 53% of teachers surveyed said that students who hadn’t eaten breakfast showed all of these signs.
85% of teachers surveyed said they would like to see more emphasis placed on breakfast in the school’s healthy eating policy. Only 10% said that their school provides breakfast for the children, resulting in one in four teachers actually keeping food in the classroom just in case a child needs it.
As part of National Porridge Week, Flahavan’s and Keeling’s have come together with the Share a Breakfast Moment campaign to educate families on the importance of a healthy start to the day. One of the highlights of the campaign is a primary schools initiative that features the Brekkie Bus, which will be visiting a number of primary schools and serving up delicious porridge and fruit combinations.
Commenting on the campaign, dietician Aveen Bannon said: ‘This survey confirms what we know – that not eating breakfast has a notable effect on a child’s ability to concentrate and perform in class. Getting the kids out to school in the morning can often be a challenge and a lot of focus is placed on the contents of the lunchbox. But for growing children, the importance of having a healthy breakfast to kick-start their day cannot be over emphasised.’
A survey of mums nationwide revealed that, 34% of mothers cite a ‘lack of time’ as the most common reason why their child might skip breakfast. 31% say their child is ‘too sleepy’ in the morning and 26% say their child finds it difficult to eat first thing. Of those who do have breakfast, 46% are spending more than 10 minutes at breakfast while 37% spend just 5 to 10 minutes. 11% are spending less than 5 minutes!
Like teachers, mums feel that irritability, lack of energy and poor concentration are the most obvious effects on behaviour when a child skips breakfast. 59% highlighted that the impact of an unhealthy breakfast can lead to a ‘slump’ tiredness or crankiness by mid-morning; 50% say they crave unhealthy snacks and 46% say their child is very hungry by lunchtime.
Porridge is considered by both Mums and teachers to be by far the most healthy breakfast option for a child and 62% of Mums say porridge is the ‘ideal’ breakfast they’d like their child to eat. Porridge is also the breakfast of choice for the majority (42%) of Mums, with nearly 70% of mums citing various berries as their favourite toppings.
According to Aveen Bannon ‘Campaigns like Share a Breakfast Moment can often inspire parents to get the whole family enjoying and sharing a breakfast moment. The Brekkie Bus is also a fun and engaging way to encourage children to experience and enjoy a healthy and nutritious breakfast as part of their morning routine.’
To encourage you to Share a Breakfast Moment Flahavan’s and Keelings are offering a 50c discount coupon on each-others brands in retail stores nationwide. Consumers who purchase Keeling’s products (specifically berries – strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries) during the month of October will get 50c coupon off the purchase of a Flahavan’s product and vice versa.
Those looking to find out more can check out www.breakfastmoments.ie for information, nutritious recipes and time saving tips and tricks!