Most of us know that breakfast is supposed to be the most important time of the day and there are lots of studies about the dangers of skipping breakfast – like this one – but I’m sure that all of us struggle at times to have anything more substantial than a piece of toast on the run, especially during the week. The likelihood of being able to sit down and enjoy a leisurely breakfast is less than nil.
We’re lucky in our house that we’re able to do breakfast at home but for hundreds of thousands of children all round the country, “breakfast” means “Breakfast Club”.
I saw an article recently about a survey by Kellogg’s and YouGov into breakfast clubs. The survey has shown that not only does breakfast club give a nutritional meal to many children that would otherwise miss out, which is clearly key for their physical health, it’s key for the mental wellbeing of children too. Schools report significant improvements in behaviour, attendance and even exam results.
Unfortunately the survey also showed that Breakfast Club provision is under threat in 43% of schools.
While the benefits to the children (and schools) are clear, parents gain a lot too. The survey shows that a quarter of parents rely on Breakfast Club to allow them to go to work and hold down a job.
In the Davies house we always tried to make sure our eldest had something to eat before he went to pre-school, and now that he’s started reception it’s even more important to have something before we go to school (despite his protests – apparently some of his friends get to have chips, pizza, chocolate and even ice cream for breakfast so it’s not fair that we give him cereal – 4 year olds have very active imaginations!).
But breakfast is much more than a quick bowl of coco-pops or a banana while trying to get the school uniform on or stop his baby brother trying out for the olympic diving team from his high chair, it should be a time to get mentally ready for a busy day at school too.
From my own personal perspective, before our youngest was born at the start of the year, we both had full time jobs and were lucky that the pre-school (attached to a primary) had Breakfast Club – without it we couldn’t both have continued working.
The greatest benefit we saw was that Breakfast Club gave an opportunity for our son to play, mix and form real friendships with children of other ages before lessons started.
This mix of ages helped him develop massively: confidence; communication; vocabulary (including some words that maybe he shouldn’t know!!); learn how to behave in school like the older children and so on. He also learnt how to do “face plants into the wall” – I’m not sure I want to know!
So for us, Breakfast Club means more than the name of one of the greatest films of all time or just a way to get some food, it’s been a huge, positive influence on the development of our son and there’s nothing more important than that