It’s probably the one aspect you overlook when you send your kids off to school. But learning good cafeteria manners are important. Here are a few tips and tricks for navigating the cafeteria at lunchtime:
Do Your Job as a Parent
If your child has food allergies, your school may require a doctors note notifying them of the allergies. Make sure that you do this to avoid any problems on the first day. Also make sure that you go over school lunch menus and make sure that your child is aware of the things that he or she will or will not be able to eat on that particular day. If a home lunch is necessary, make sure that you have one packed for them.
Also make sure that you keep track of their account and if money needs to be added. If you give your child a check or cash for lunch, make sure you talk about where they need to store their money and how they need to give it to the cafeteria workers if needed.
Younger children often have trouble remembering they have money in their backpacks. Work out some ways to remember to bring their money at lunchtime. Also talk to them about sharing and sharing money. My daughter one time charitably gave a $20 bill to her friend that ran out of lunch money in her account that day. Luckily the cafeteria worker called me to make sure that was okay and we worked out the mistake. But we did have a good discussion on always asking mom first before sharing our money. Especially $20.
Also keep track of their accounts and be diligent in checking it periodically. When 2 notices came home in two weeks even after I had given the school money, I went into the cafeteria and found out that the cafeteria worker had mistaken my daughter and another girl who were in the same grade with similar sounding names. Money was being put on the other girls account, and not on my daughter’s account.
Follow School Rules
One of the things we did was go over school cafeteria rules. I showed my daughter where she would line up to get her food, where she could sit after wards, and how she would need to raise her hand when finished. We also talked about not cutting in line, throwing food, and making sure she threw away all of her food properly when she was done and not leaving trash to others. We also talked about how talking was okay in the cafeteria, but screaming and shouting and throwing things were not.
It might also help to look up on your school’s website any other rules that they may have regarding lunch time. Some schools require that you stay in your seat until a staff member excuses them. Other schools allow you to leave the cafeteria and play when you are done.
Back Up Menu
As a parent, it helps to have a backup plan for those days that the kids just don’t want to eat what’s in the cafeteria. Have some easy lunch items in the fridge that you can easily throw together in the morning if needed. It also helps to go over their menu with them when it comes out. Talk about healthy choices and options and what is and isn’t the best item for them to eat. Teaching your children to eat healthier choices is a great way to help them learn what is and isn’t good to eat.