About six weeks ago, I found an article in the Washington Post that caught my attention: School Lunch Can Be A Teachable Moment.
Does the institutional nature of school lunch periods make a difference to kids? The idea that using place settings to create a more civilized lunch period sent me straight to Home Goods (our local source of discounted home furnishings).
Our school days are short of time; devoting time for students and teachers to eat together as the author of the Post article advocates just doesn’t seem to be possible. But there was something I could do. My idea? To use one lunch period each week to each with a small group of students.
The environmentally-unfriendly styrofoam trays, and plastic baggie filled with a spork and paper napkin were replaced with actual silverware, plates, napkins and place mats. Each week we pick a day for a group of 4 students to eat upstairs – fancy lunch.
It has been such a fun experience for all of us I think. First of all, the calmness of eating in a classroom was not lost on any of the students. Each group has commented on the quietness of eating together, of having quiet conversations.
Many of my students don’t eat at a table with the family for dinner or supper. They shared that they often eat in front of a television, in a living room, using finger foods. We practiced setting a table with silverware, we learn to utensils, we learn to cut food into bite-sized portions.
We are learning to enjoy a meal together.