Thursday, July 11, 2013

Repost: Kindergarten Lunchtime Tips

Repost: Here's an update to a post I blogged three years ago, with tips on helping students navigate their lunchtime routine at school.  Whether students eat in a cafeteria or remain in their classroom for meals, a little help from parents before school starts can make all the difference.  Read through to the end for links to kid-friendly lunch box meal ideas!


(Eco lunch boxes found here)

Parents, do you have a kindergartner gearing up for his or her first day of school?  It's not just time to think about tracking down school supply lists and new clothes, but to prepare for new schedules and routines that will quickly be put into place regarding snack and lunch times too.  

*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 a social time so kids are too busy chatting, visiting, and listening in on conversations to remember the good manners you taught them.

*While packing lunch, check to see if there's a slit cut into the straw wrapper for your child's drink.  If there isn't, make one so that your child doesn't resort to ripping it apart with his or her teeth.  Juice boxes tend to be easier to punch straws into than the pouch style drinks.

*Though teachers and lunch aides 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 being a good friend doesn't require the sharing of food or offering "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 baggies now, or be prepared for very messy spills and mountains of crumbs coming home to you in backpacks or lunch sacks.

*If you send a thermos with lunch, make sure your child knows which way is "up" and how the lid should be level when twisted back on.  Leaks and spills are messy, especially if your child shares a locker or cubby with a classmate.

*Not every classroom has a refrigerator available, so if you live in a 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. BTW, few teachers, lunch aides and custodians will appreciate it if Dad insists on teaching your kindergartner how to "pop" chip bags open.

*We're 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 food wrappers or containers are disposable trash, and which aren'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.  Prepaying also enables the lunch lines to move more quickly.

*The teacher might ask that all students bring a snack (or two) each day or might ask parents to sign up to provide snacks for the entire class one day each month.  Make sure to ask if there are any food items that cannot be shared due to allergies or cultural food preferences before preparing snacks for your child or classmates.

*Eating surfaces are also learning surfaces in classrooms, so your child will need to clean crumbs and spills before beginning a new activity.  To many children, "cleaning" means brushing crumbs from the tabletop to the floor or soaking up spills with sleeves or shirt hems. Thank you for teaching your child how to wipe down and dry a surface and to throw wrappers away in the trashcan.


Do you have any tips or helpful hints for how to handle lunch and snacktime at school?  Please share by commenting~


~ Wendy Copely shares Lunch Box Ideas for Back to School

~ Tina from Mommy's Kitchen has lots of great photos of Back to School Lunch Ideas from Walmart

~ ... and Moms by Heart feature printable lunch note freebies here.

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