More than 50 percent of children in the United States do not drink enough water.

A study conducted by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that more than half of American children and teenagers aren’t properly hydrated due to lack of water. HealthyKids.gov recommends children drink anywhere between five to seven glasses of water a day, depending on age and sex.

Drinking enough water is key for the body to carry out vital processes such as circulation, metabolism, temperature regulation and eliminating waste. Not drinking enough water, especially during the developmental stages, can potentially lead to long-term harm on both physical and mental health, including a slowed process of learning information.

Even in the short-term, dehydration can cause serious negative side effects. Headaches, dry mouth, dizziness, irritability, increased heart rate and poorer physical performance are all possible results of insufficient water consumption.

As summer comes to a close and back-to-school preparations are being made, it is a great time to think about ensuring your child drinks the recommended amount of water.

Here are a few ways to promote drinking water among kids:

Take it on the go: Send kids to school, practice or a friend’s house with a bottle of water. Keep water bottles handy in the car, or provide a glass of water in the evening to drink at bedtime, in the middle of the night or in the morning. Constant access to water can make a big difference.

Enhance the taste: Flavor water with fresh citrus or diced fruits to add a twist to your water. This is a great alternative to sugary, processed drinks, like sodas and most juices.

Make it fun: Give children silly straws, colorful cups or water bottles. Providing fun incentives for drinking water throughout the day is a great tool to help kids stay hydrated.

Jackline Trinh, Clinical Inpatient Dietitian at Del Sol Medical Center

Sources: Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, HealthyKids.gov