Reception children’s understanding of fluid intake

Masters Thesis

Williamson, J. 2019. Reception children’s understanding of fluid intake. Masters Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University School of Childhood and Education Sciences
AuthorsWilliamson, J.
TypeMasters Thesis
Qualification nameMasters by Research


It is important that children drink enough water throughout the day for the benefit of theirwellbeing by being hydrated (World Health Organisation, 2004). However, it has been identified that children under 11 years do not understand the amount of fluid they need each day for good health (Coppinger and Howells’, 2019). In 2019, they previously completed an international comparison between primary schools in Ireland and England focusing on children’s understanding of fluid intake. Within their sample, only a small number of children were aged 4 – 5 years. This age category in England undertakes the Early Years’ Foundation Stage Curriculum (DfE, 2014), within which they learn about the importance for: good health; of physical exercise; and a healthy diet. This thesis focuses on the gap in the age phase of the previous research and questions if young children understand and know about fluid intake.


A questionnaire was adapted from Coppinger and Howells’ (2019) to be age appropriate for young children, this included physical visual representations to aid question
comprehension. From 4 different schools in the South East of England, 130 children were questioned between January and April 2019. To analyse the overall data, the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences 24.0 (SPSS) was used to analyse the data using MANOVAs (p<0.05) to consider statistical variance in age (by year and month), gender and school location, also Levene’s (1961) test for quality variance was used.

Results and Conclusion

It was found that 46.9% of the children reported they consumed 500 ml or under a day. 38.8% highlighted that their teacher told them when to drink. Also, when the children were thirsty, if given the choice of stopping play to rehydrate or continuing to just play without drinking, 33.8% would continue to play ignoring their thirst response. It is concluded that this research provides an insight that has the potential to assist teachers in developing more effective resources and strategies to aid Reception children’s current knowledge and understanding of the significance of drinking throughout the day. To provide a brief for further work, teachers need to encourage water consumption within lesson time by integrating a whole class drinks break, while also allowing children to carry water bottles into their child-initiated activities. Finally, the development of a community hydration pack needs further research.

KeywordsWater ; Fluid intake; Primary school children; Young children; Health ; Nutrition
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Deposited09 Sep 2020
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The influence of siblings on young children's understanding of fluid intake
Williamson, J. and Howells, K. 2020. The influence of siblings on young children's understanding of fluid intake . International Journal of Nutrition. 6 (3), pp. 13-20.