I teach 2 sessions of ½ day Kindergarten every day and these children do not eat lunch at school. This past Friday, all of our Kindergartners had a chance to ‘try out’ the cafeteria, buy lunch and then eat it in the allotted time…just like a first grader. Sounds easy, right? Wrong! Starting with choosing white or chocolate milk to choosing 2 sides to go with the pizza, the walk through the cafeteria line took much longer than it should have. Then, once the children got to their assigned tables, the fun really began. Most of the children did not know how to open a small carton of milk, what to do with straw with paper on it, open their ice cream, or eat without managing to get some of it on the floor. Yikes! It seems to be that some practice for these soon to be first graders who will be eating lunch at school in the fall is in order. Parents, try offering your child choices with your meals at home. I don’t mean a choice of the main course, but maybe a choice of a drink, or choice of a vegetable, or even a choice of a dessert. There won’t be enough adults in the cafeteria to help all of these first graders if they don’t do some practicing at home to get ready. The other part of eating in the cafeteria is time management. Many schools schedule 30 minutes per class to enter the cafeteria, go through the line, eat, clean up and get in line to wait for your teacher, so time management skills are of the utmost importance. Many children on Friday wanted to start their lunch with their ice cream…they’re children so that seemed like a good idea to them. However, ice cream alone would not give them the protein or energy needed to get through an afternoon of math, social studies and science. Teach your child to eat the main course first and then attack that dessert..if there is time. I don’t want your child to get an ulcer worrying about eating in the school cafeteria, but try showing a clock to your own child before a meal and teaching them about using time properly while eating and visiting in the school cafeteria. It will be a smooth transition for your child eating lunch in the school cafeteria if some time is spent between now and September going over Cafeteria 101 with your child.