The idea(l) of a water only school
Study after study has concluded that drinking water has a positive effect on children’s attention spans and learning – but can we force children to drink water in place of sugary drinks?
What is interesting is that the school has looked to ban sugary drinks and this seems to have created a reaction from the school children. Of course it is in the nature of school children to rebel and the responses brought a smile to our face.
On pupil at Acland Burghley School was quoted as saying – “There is business potential now there’s a gap in the market,” he said. “Gangsters sold alcohol in America when that was banned. Prohibition always leads to supply and demand. That means anyone who sneaks it in can make a lot of money.”
Educating children about the positive hydrating effects of water is a fundamental part of this and the school head teachers was quoted as saying “Students are fully aware that water is a clean, free and healthy drink and that, in comparison, a bottle of Lucozade containing 27 spoons of sugar is only damaging their health.”
However we ask if the education message can be enforced. Wouldn’t it be better that children start to make their own decisions based on positive affirmation rather than a blanket ban.
When schools contact us regarding the suite of water products that we offer, we often find that we start an educating process explaining to facilities/head teachers the raft of options available to them. Helping them to understand that drinking water points can be installed both internally and externally around the school.
Depending on the schools requirements we have the options of wall mounted sinks which can be installed at different levels so that both younger and older children can drink from while playing at breaks or sports time. We have a full range of chilled drinking fountains that are vandal resistant and can be installed internally around the school at suitable high traffic points. Options of installing bottle filling taps on both of these models is also available but the maintenance aspect of these is important.
Providing all children with drinking water bottles is another very positive step that a school can take to encouraging (rather than enforcing) a hydration message. However this can become a very expensive option for parents if children – as children do – lose their bottles. Asking parents to provide children with drinking bottles every day is another option – but this can be affected by the wealth of the school’s catchment area.
Without drinking water bottles the school is likely to become reliant on one-trip plastic bottles. These plastic bottles are often perceived to having a negative environmental message that children will be all too aware of.
Once the proper facilities are in place we offer advice on how schools can enforce the positive hydration message throughout the classrooms and by using printed materials. There are very useful charities that have a raft of material that schools can use. For more information on this please browse the article we published back in 2009 on the Water is Cool in School initiative.
A ban can be a starting position. However good planning before a ban is enacted is key. Education, facilities & execution are crucial to creating an environment where children will buy into the idea(l) rather than rebel against the imposition of authority from on high.
This article was written as a response to the excellent article from Foodbev.com by Bill Bruce. You can read it here.