More than Just Good Schools: How Location Can Affect Your Child’s Odds of Success in Education and Beyond

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teacher with her students

Every parent dreams of their child’s success. They envision their kids completing a good education, and leveraging that into a successful career. Yet while you dream big for your child, it’s easy to overlook the fact that such milestones are often achieved through cumulative advantages in life.

Progressing through the education system requires good grades. In turn, students have better chances of success when other factors go their way; a positive home environment, stable finances, and family relationships, for instance.

This doesn’t mean that children won’t succeed if they face obstacles in such areas. But failing to address those makes the challenge they face difficult; they will have to make it despite the conditions of their upbringing. Here’s how your location can play an unexpected role in setting them on track toward those aspirations.

Environment influences nutrition

Sound nutrition is a significant contributor to a child’s health. And healthy kids tend to be more effective at learning. They will be active in mind and body, confident, and resilient. As a parent, you’ll have less to worry about in terms of collective healthcare costs for your family; financial resources can be devoted to other concerns.

Thus, proper nutrition is often seen as the first step towards setting that snowball of positive factors in motion. But there are several determinants of fitness, and not all of them are under your control. Environmental factors influence your ability to provide a balanced diet for your kids consistently. The place where your child grows up could have a significant impact on their chances of success.

Finding a good location

Before you get a mortgage and go through the effort of relocating with your family, what are the things you consider? Aside from affordability, you’ll probably look into the safety of a neighborhood. Its convenience in terms of access to your job could be a major positive.

However, only a few people look for homes with access to healthy food. And that’s an unforeseen problem for millions of Americans. Higher-income communities tend to enjoy far more access to healthy food options than lower-income communities.

There’s even a term for this phenomenon: “food deserts.” And if you’re unaware of this danger, you could be drawn to live in affordable areas with the hidden drawback of only having convenience stores or fast food options nearby.

children at a preschool

Further complications

Even if you don’t live in a food desert, an estimated 11.8% of households are ‘food insecure.’ They might suffer from the uncertainty of being able to obtain adequate nutrition at some point in any year. Once again, environmental factors are at work here; if you hustle to make ends meet, you’ll be exhausted at the end of the day. You’ll be less likely to take the added time and effort to shop at an out-of-the-way grocery for healthy food.

A final complicating factor is the impact of the pandemic on food supply and the effectiveness of the local response in your area. People who might not have had issues with food access might now have to deal with those challenges. For those already in food deserts, matters can only get worse.

Rising to the challenge

These problems shouldn’t raise anxiety or spell the end of high hopes for your children. But it helps to be aware of how your environment shapes your nutrition, and what that implies for your child’s future.

Not all of the solutions need to come from the families affected. Ensuring the adequate supply of healthy food is a systemic issue; it falls upon local government leaders and policymakers to prioritize public health. Even a simple step, such as ensuring that public transportation routes pass by well-stocked groceries, will help to give convenient access to more people.

You can team up with other concerned families to drive change at the community level. Introducing a farmer’s market to your neighborhood will make it easier for families in the area to buy healthy produce. The need for a vehicle to cover long distances for supply trips will be reduced.

If a neighborhood market is still some way off, you can pool resources with other families. Someone with a vehicle could go on a collective supply run, while the rest chip in to cover the costs.

Moving to a better location is a huge undertaking. It should be the last resort. But if change isn’t happening in your area, start searching for a community with a market nearby. In the years to come, being able to provide proper nutrition for your child each day will be worth it many times over.

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