Saturday, July 19, 2008

Are You Ready? Back to School...Lunchtime Tips

... because it's just around the corner!


If you have a kindergartner gearing up for the first day of school, it's time to put yourself in his/her shoes in regard to LUNCH.

*Soggy sandwiches aren't fun to eat, so try coating both pieces of bread with peanut butter with some jelly in the middle to avoid jelly-soak-through.

*Orange chips stain clothes. Yes, kids still wipe their hands all over their shirts and pants, ignoring the cute napkin you included in their lunchbox. Lunch time is social time so kids are too busy chatting, visiting, and listening in on conversations to remember the good manners you taught them.

*Those little plastic wrappers on the straws for juice boxes don't always have a slit cut into them. Juice boxes tend to be easier to punch straws into than the pouch style drinks.

*Though teachers discourage it, food bartering/swapping still takes place at lunch or snack time. Please remember that some students have food allergies, occasionally severe. It's important that your child knows he/she is still a good friend even though s/he won't share peanut butter cookies (or offer "just a taste" of some other treat) with classmates.

*If your child likes to save leftovers for a snack later in the day, please practice fastening those plastic storage lids or ziploc baggies NOW, otherwise, be prepared for very messy spills and mountains of crumbs in backpacks or lunch sacks.

*If you send a thermos with lunch, make sure your child knows which way is "up" when it comes to putting the thermos back in the lunch box, otherwise s/he will be back in Leak-and-Spillsville.

*Not every classroom has a refrigerator available, so if you live in hot climate, plan on skipping the mayo and milk.

*Snack packaging (the wrappers on cookies, chips, graham crackers, trail mix, fruit snacks, etc.) isn't always easy for little hands to open. Cut a small slit in the top of each to help ease your child's frustration. The same goes for the tips of bananas, or the peels on oranges.

*Yes, teachers are happy to help your young ones learn how to open milk cartons and lunch wrappers, but children feel such a sense of accomplishment, independence and helpfulness when they can do it on their own and teach their friends the "tricks of the trade" as well. Small milk cartons are available at most grocery stores if your kindergartner would like to practice before school starts.

*Not every child knows that you'd rather not open a lunchbox full of wrappers, banana peels, or used juice straws at the end of every day. Additionally, kids don't always know that you might want their plastic containers returned home! Decide and discuss which items morph from "food wrappers" or containers to disposable trash, and which don't. You'll keep a lot of your Tupperware collection intact if you address this sooner rather than later. Ditto for silverware!

*Make sure you write your child's name on that lunch box or lunch sack, because there's always at least one classmate who will have the same one, or one similar looking enough that mix-ups will occur.

*If your child will purchase lunch at school each day, make sure you find out the "routine" in advance and see if you can prepay so your child won't panic or experience a meltdown if lunch money has been lost on the playground.


Do you have any tips or helpful hints for lunch time? Please share by commenting!


  1. I didn't even know I needed all of these tips! This was astoundingly helpful as we prepare for our first day of kindergarten for our oldest in just a week. Thanks!

  2. You're very welcome Jenny! I hope your first week of kindergarten is joyous and exciting!

  3. Wow! I hadn't even thought about a lot of these things. Thanks for sharing your tidbits that you've learned from experience with us!

  4. Impressed.! Your tips are really very practical and useful. Those tips will help me for back to school preparations.

  5. Hi Michaele,
    I am new to your blog and VERY impressed! I have been teaching 20 years and am learning SO much on your blog!
    May I share these lunch tips with my First Grade Parents and obviously cite where I got them?
    Thank you again for sharing with us!
    Kelly O'Rourke
    Teacher of the Fabulous First Graders
    Culver Elementary School
    Culver, Oregon

  6. Welcome Kelly! So glad you found me. Please DO share these tips with your families and students. One little tweak you MIGHT have to make is if your school has become a "peanut-free" zone- the peanut butter sandwiches or cookies won't be allowed if that is the case.

    Come back soon- and make sure to look through the archives (this post is in one of them!) for any other info you might find helpful.



As always, thank you for your comments, tips, suggestions and questions!