But children can’t live up to their full potential if they’re at a disadvantage before they even start. That’s why it’s so important to be aware of these health-related barriers that can have a negative effect on your child’s learning:
Lack of sleep can cause children to become irritable and unable to focus. It can affect their memory, and therefore, their ability to learn. In older children, it can even lead to depression and low self-esteem. Children aged six to 12 need nine to 12 hours of sleep, and teens aged 13 to 18 need eight to ten hours.
Physical activity increases blood circulation for improved brain function and regulates weight. Endorphins released through exercise also improves a child’s mood and reduces stress and anxiety. It improves their mental health where children are more able to abstain from taking unnecessary risks.
A lack of nutrients form nourishing foods not only affects brain function, and thereby a child’s school performance, but also their emotional state, social skills, and their ability to interact with others.
Being sick can make a child feel tired, drained and miserable, thereby affecting their ability to focus and learn. Children who miss school due to illness have to work harder to catch up on missed work. Therefore it’s important to catch the signs of sickness early so children can feel better fast.
Trauma can affect a child’s mental health. Children may not be able to express the negative emotions resulting from a trauma, so they act out to relieve the stress and anxiety they’re feeling. Trauma will, therefore, harm a child’s ability to learn due to depression and not being able to focus in the classroom.
Children who can’t hear properly will have difficulty understanding speech and won’t do well in language, making it difficult to learn. These disadvantages could also affect their emotions and behaviour.
Dental problems could lead to pain and infection. If not treated promptly, this can affect a child’s eating, speech and learning ability. If a child is in pain or can’t speak properly, they won’t be able to communicate effectively or focus.
Female children may miss out on an average of five days of school per month due to menstruation. This is not only because they may not be able to afford, (or have access to free) sanitary products, but also because menstruation is stigmatised in many cultures, and therefore, these girls feel shame and embarrassment during their menstruation, so they stay home.
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