Practicing school lunch at home for kids is a crucial skill for school! Help your child succeed at school by teaching them how to open and eat a lunch box meal!
While it might seem silly to have your child practice eating lunch, this is one skill set that is often neglected as children prepare to go off to school.
Opening lunch boxes, packaging, and even peeling a banana are very important skills for school age children.
In fact, as a former pre-k and kindergarten teacher I consider it one of the top 10 essential skill for kindergarten readiness!
Why are Lunch Skills So Important?
You may be thinking this is a silly thing to practice with your child, however, I find it is crucial to their success in school for two reasons.
1. Lunch times are often limited: In our school (as with most schools) we only had 25 minutes to open, eat, and clean up from lunch before hustling to the next class.
That is NOT a lot of time if your child is having to wait for the teacher to open their food. With 20-30 kids per teacher, and each child having 3-5 items to open, it might be 5 or even 10 minutes before your child can even start eating!
In my opinion that is just way too long for a small child to wait, and then way too fast for them to have to eat before leaving the lunch room!
2. Being able to do something yourself build confidence in other areas: While there is nothing wrong with asking for help, the pride of learning how to do something on your own will follow your child for many years to come.
Aside from learning letters and numbers, learning to master their lunch box is one of the first skills I tried to teach my pre-k and kindergarten students.
Not every teacher has the opportunity or desire to teach their class this important skill, so help your child put their best foot forward by practicing lunch box skills a few times this summer!
Eating Lunch at School for Kids: An Essential Skill
Here are the things you will need for this lesson:
- A lunch box
- A packed lunch with a variety of packaging
- i.e. Water bottle / Juice box
- Ziploc baggies with fruits or veggies
- Sandwich or container with other main course
- A banana
Basically, pack a meal that you would actually send your child to school with!
Prepare the lunch ahead of time (that morning) so that it is in the lunch box and ready to go at lunch time. Tell your child about the lunch box beforehand so they can get excited about the idea!
At lunch time, pull out the lunch box and watch your child to see how they can manage.
Don’t jump in right away, but give them a chance to try things on their own.
You can see my son working to open his own baggies! He also unzipped the lunchbox on his own, and practiced opening his juice bottle too!
Remember that you don’t want them to be frustrated, so if they ask for help give it!
Verbally guide them through opening all their food, how to eat neatly, and how to clean up when they are finished.
Make sure they know which things get thrown away and which things are supposed to come home.
I can’t tell you the number of rubbermaid containers I dug out of the trash after lunch!
If they aren’t able to tell trash items from keep items, just have them put everything back in the lunchbox so you can sort it out at home.
Additional Ideas for Teaching Your Child to Eat Lunch at School
In addition to simply learning how to eat and clean up from lunch, it’s also a fun idea to let your child learn to make their own lunch!
Make a list of simple to make items (sandwiches, crackers, chips, fruit/cheese, deli meats, and so on…) that they can practice gathering and putting together. Then work your way through the list over a period of time (several weeks) helping them learn a new meal from time to time.
This is also a good time to talk about a balanced meal.
Make sure there is a meat, good starch, fruit, vegetable, and maybe a treat in every lunchbox!
You don’t want them to pack nothing but gummy bears for lunch 😉
Whatever you do, just make sure that they have several opportunities to practice at least opening their lunch box and food items. This will help them so much as they transition from home to school!