Making the Most of Mealtime in the Classroom

If your school is moving meals into the classroom, it could be a great opportunity to build relationships with students. Help make mealtimes a positive experience.

  1. Make safety a priority.
    • Have everyone wash their hands before and after eating.
    • Explain that we cannot share food or drinks because that spreads germs.
    • Communicate classroom allergies to families.
    • Ensure rules, such as nut-free policies, are followed by everyone.
  2. Set expectations.
    • Set aside time during the first week to help children practice and learn expected mealtime manners and cleanup procedures.
    • Expect spills and messes. Have paper towels (and other supplies) ready, and have kids help clean up their own mess.
  3. Build social-emotional skills.
    • Use the time together to bond with students.
    • Ask open-ended questions:
      • What was the most fun part of your morning?
      • What are you looking forward to doing later today?
      • How are you feeling today?
      • If you could be a (superhero, animal, professional athlete, etc.) what would you be and why?
  4. Be a healthy role model.
    • Eat smart foods in front of your students, including veggies and fruits.
    • Order breakfast and lunch from the school cafeteria, and leave the planning, prepping and packing to the professionals.
    • Stay hydrated. Water is the best way to hydrate, so make sure you and your students have personal water bottles that can be refilled throughout the day.
  5. Create a positive mealtime environment.
    • Have screen-free meals and snacks. Focus on pleasant conversations or play music at a low volume.
    • Let everyone be social. This might be one of the only opportunities the children have to let loose with their friends during the day.
    • Don't focus on what or how much the kids are eating. A gentle reminder to eat their food is OK, but don’t push them to finish it all or try something they aren’t interested in.

If at all possible, enjoy your meal or snack outside. Use small towels, blankets, poly spots or other items to help kids maintain social distancing guidelines.

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