Montessori education offers the unique advantage of turning everything you see and do into a learning experience for you and your children, inclsuing their preschool lunch. Children are constantly working, playing, creating, and growing. As a result, lunch is an excellent opportunity for them to recharge during the day. However, there’s more to it than just refueling! From retrieving their lunchboxes to setting out placemats and food with proper meal etiquette and cleaning up, we practice these habits without thinking about them. However, for the young, there’s a lot to remember. But despite this, they learn the routine quickly and perform it effortlessly. In addition to providing them with nourishment for the day, this simple process makes them sociable and self-sufficient and establishes a routine that they will follow well into adulthood.
Despite parental expectations, we at Springdale Academy, a Montessori school in New Jersey, believe that children are capable of more than what parents expect. This is why we encourage parents to include their children in their preschool lunch preparation. We understand that losing control over what is packed can be a bit scary, or that it can add a little extra day-to-day administration to a busy schedule, but the payoff is worth it.
Why involve your preschool child in making his or her lunch?
The process begins with the child participating in the selection of their first preschool lunchbox, i.e., an eco-friendly container. Besides letting them experience the freedom of choosing their lunchbox, it gives them a chance to practice their motor skills when they open and close the container lids. It also enhances their spatial awareness when they match different shapes and sizes of containers and lids. Having your child co-prepare their lunch with you teaches them planning and problem-solving. Furthermore, it reduces food waste since children feel more responsible for their food choices and preferences when they are involved in the decision-making process. Moreover, you can help them improve their language skills by speaking the names of the foods they will be eating at their mid-afternoon meal and asking them to repeat them.
You might be concerned that your child will pack a lunch full of junk food when you allow them to design their lunchbox. For this reason, we must set parameters and boundaries for them. Let them pack their favorite treats once in a while after they learn how to make healthy meals on their own. Ensuring that the kids understand what is expected of them requires polite and clear communication with them. Because mistakes will be made, parents must exercise patience throughout the process.
Creating a safe environment also contributes significantly to your child’s success in this process. In most cases, children cannot reach kitchen counters on their own, so access to their workspace and child-safe tools is essential to foster their creativity. In the pantry or the refrigerator, set up a low shelf so that children can reach the food without having to ask you. If needed, a step stool can give them access to a sink, dishwasher, and trash bin. The parents eventually have to take a step back when the children have adapted and begin implementing these actions on their own. Allow them to do the work by showing them how it is done. After that, observe them, assist them if they need it, and marvel at their independence.
Montessori educators at Springdale Academy are trained to spot learning opportunities in everyday tasks by observing the children and then providing them with resources that meet their needs. So, if you have any questions, get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to assist you. Making lunch together is a genuine Montessori experience. Packing your child’s lunch box shouldn’t be left out of this!