4 Life Habits for Stronger Academic Performance

Maximize the impact of your hard work in school by cultivating life habits that nurture your brain

Life habits stronger academic performance

Life habits stronger academic performance

As parents, you know better than anyone that unlocking academic success is about more than just hitting the books — it’s also about cultivating life habits that nurture the mind and body.

Picture a future in which your child thrives in high school, because not only do they work hard, but their hard academic work pays off in spades because they have a handle on their screen time, their sleep, their diet, and more. Here, we’ll lay out some practical strategies to help your child lay the foundation for greater academic growth by developing the everyday behaviors that promote high-level learning. Remember: anytime we’re preparing to take on a big, new challenge (like high school!), it’s the perfect time to shore up the basics.

1. Set a bedtime

The NIH tells us that sleep is essential to maintain neural pathways, consolidate information from short to long-term memory, and clear toxins that build up during the day from our brains. School-age children and teens need about 9.5 hours of sleep for optimal brain function, and that need becomes much more challenging to meet as kids become teenagers. Their natural body clock pushes back by about 2 hours, greater exposure to light from screens suppresses body chemicals that trigger sleepiness, and early high school start times turn night owls into early rises. Help your teenager keep their brain healthy by establishing a regular bedtime routine that includes eliminating screens at least an hour before sleep, engaging in wind-down activities, and having a regular bedtime.

2. Manage screen time and electromagnetic fields (EMFs)

Technology allows us access to more information than ever before and affords students the opportunity to engage deeply in their interests, but there is increasing evidence that the light emitted by screens and the EMFs from all our wireless devices are changing the way that adolescent brains develop with a particular impact on students’ ability to maintain focus. Make a plan for how your family will manage screen time overall, but understand that the demands of school and social lives make that difficult. Consider using blue light filters & keeping all internet devices out of the bedroom while your child sleeps (or if that’s not possible, turning them to airplane mode) as an accessible starting point.

3. Fuel the body and brain

Without getting into a full lecture on the importance of good nutrition, here are just a few facts. The human brain is 73% water. The neurotransmitters (which allow different parts of the brain to communicate) are made entirely of protein. Many studies have found a strong correlation between a diet high in processed foods and poor memory, impulse control, and overall brain function. If there’s ever a time when your child’s brain needs to be at its best, encourage them to consider what they eat and drink as part of the plan.

4. Get moving

We all know that exercise is part of a healthy life, but few realize the real impact exercise has on brain development and function — not to mention mental health! Brain imaging has shown that physical activity leads to “more organized, robust, and flexible brain networks.” It’s no surprise then that physical activity is also associated with increased GPAs and decreased anxiety, social withdrawal, and aggression. As a bonus — engaging in physical activity at any point in the day leads to more restorative sleep, regardless of the length of time. If your child’s life doesn’t allow for a full-blown workout regularly, try incorporating just 10 minutes of high-intensity movement to reap the vast majority of the brain benefits.

Looking for more personalized support in helping your child develop life habits for high school and beyond? Our executive functioning coaches can help! Contact us or reach out to your director to set up a strategy session!

Caroline Hertz