This week, grade one dad Chris Paine shares his thoughts on an all-too-familiar school lunch experience!
I’m not sure if the same happens to many other parents; arriving home after school with a child who is absolutely ravenous (and will actually eat raw veggies they are so hungry) to open the school bag and find that the lunch that you so carefully prepared that morning is only half eaten. The conversation often went like: “Didn’t you like the chicken and avocado sandwiches?”, “Oh yes, but I didn’t have time to eat them…”.
After this happening more times than I was comfortable with, I arranged a chat with the wonderful Mr. Penson to discuss. It was my belief that children were given 15 minutes of supervised lunchtime in which to eat their lunches and then sent out to the playground. So I put it to James that this was hardly enough time. I certainly wouldn’t consider allowing my staff only 15 minutess to eat their lunches, and mealtimes at home are certainly not that rapid, so why do this at school? James surprised me with his response, actually it was only ten minutes that was allowed in the schedule for lunches although for the younger students sometime this was slightly extended.
I was astounded! Ten minutes to eat lunch? How on earth did he expect students to manage that? (I’ve been told by other parents that I just have to wait for my son to get a little older and I’ll be equally astounded by how much he’ll be able to consume in ten minutes – but that’s thankfully not the case just yet!). I pointed out that if the children weren’t eating at lunchtime, it was certain that their ability to concentrate during the afternoon’s studies would be reduced. I know for sure that unless my two (three if you include my wife) don’t get fed in regular enough intervals, rational thought and behavior start to deteriorate. Sometimes I’d swear someone swapped the pre-lunch moaning whining terror for a perfect angel sometime during a meal when I wasn’t looking.
What followed was a piece of information that I certainly was not aware of. After the allocated teacher supervised lunchtime, students are free to take their lunches into the playground and continue to eat there. With all the warnings about students with allergies and in prior years great care not to pack anything in lunch boxes that class mates were allergic to, this sudden freedom seems very liberating. But it certainly wasn’t something I was aware of.
James took the action to ensure that all teachers were aware that children could take their lunches into the playground, and to reinforce the importance of ensuring that at the very least children do have that full ten minutes of allocated lunchtime just for that purpose and it is not reduced due to overruns of any lesson time. I’ve told my daughter that she can take her lunch into the playground and have a little picnic if she wants to. I’ve also told her that the “I didn’t have time” excuse doesn’t work anymore!
So I’d like to conclude with two important points –
- There is no reason that your child doesn’t have the time to eat their lunch. If there are activities that are run during lunchtime that would preclude them from having the necessary time, then please raise this with James and he will try to make sure that this doesn’t happen.
- If you have any issue with what you think the school is doing, I can highly recommend making an appointment with James to discuss it. The discussion we had was incredibly helpful, open, honest and professional with clear actions and goals set at the conclusion. I only wish that even half the meetings I have in my day to day work were as productive!