A survey by the Association of Primary Education (APER) and Research recently revealed that 68 per cent of children bring home water bottles still full, indicating that they do not drink water at school.
By Shunila Joy Chauhan
Drinking eight to 10 glasses of water a day is something that has been ingrained in us since kindergarten. Taking a sip of this life-saving essence has also reserved a spot on our to-do list. However, despite the influx in smart water gadgets and apps, the quest to increase our water intake is easier said than done. While we adults are plagued by such carelessness, have you ever stopped and thought if your child is drinking enough water at school?
Do you fill your child’s water bottle for school, only to realise, six hours later, that it comes back home barely touched? Well, a survey by the Association of Primary Education (APER) and Research, which launched the #ringthebellforwater campaign, recently revealed that 68 per cent of children bring home water bottles still full, indicating that they do not drink water at school.
Warning signs of dehydration in children
Though guidelines suggest that children between the ages of five and eight should have five glasses of water a day, the reality is slightly different. Lack of hydration among children during school hours is resulting in frequent headaches, dizziness and fatigue, and poor physical performance.
While these are visible symptoms of mild dehydration, it can aggravate in the future leading to chronic health issues including urinary tract infections, and kidney stones.
Since water regulates body temperature, maintains cell structure and enables optimum distribution of nutrients, the need to ensure your child stays hydrated has become more important than ever.
Also, medical experts believe that by the time a child feels thirsty, he or she has already lost two per cent of body mass to dehydration.
Tips to increase your child’s water intake
As a parent, if you are struggling to increase your child’s water intake so that they stay healthy and hydrated, here’s what you can do:
1. You could begin by setting an example and create a routine. Whether you realise it or not, your child takes in everything you do. Make drinking water part of the family routine.
2. Talk to them about the importance of staying hydrated. Once they start understanding you, infuse their water with herbs their taste buds will actually enjoy.
3. As a parent, when you make water exciting, they’re more likely to sip it all day. A favourite cartoon character on the water bottle will encourage them to sip through it more frequently. About 18 per cent of parents use tricks to embed healthy hydration habits in their children.
The Water Bell Initiative – rising in popularity across India
So far, we’ve been familiar with the assembly bell and recess bell of schools. However, there’s a special bell that now rings in a few schools – ‘Water Bell’.
What is it, you may ask? It’s an initiative adopted by schools to make children drink water at specific intervals during the day to keep them hydrated. So far, 53 schools across Delhi, Pune and Bangalore have reportedly introduced this concept, following Kerala’s footsteps.
The trend mushroomed after a school meeting highlighted the health issues children are facing due to dehydration. As the name suggests, the water bell rings thrice a day giving kids a signal that they need to drink water. Though the quantity isn’t specified, teachers ensure that everyone in the class drinks water.
Teach them young
The water bell is based on United Nations guidelines that every child should have access to safe drinking water. A survey revealed that most children skip drinking water at school to avoid using the toilet, which in most cases is dirty. This further increases the need for proper sanitation to be practiced in schools.
As a parent, it is important to teach your kids young. Reemphasise the need for them to follow the water bell at school, which will further improve their concentration and learning. Being proactive about health is better than being curative.
(The writer is Principal of Thakur International School – Cambridge.)
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