Today, we’re linking up with several other parenting and kids’ activities bloggers to bring you 21 back to school ideas!
Even though Ella will be staying home at least for another year (whether we decide to homeschool long-term or just finish out Montessori Primary at home), I think it’s so important to teach kids how to make their lunch!
There are many reasons to teach children to make their own lunches:
- fosters independence
- builds responsibility and routine
- teaches children about healthy choices
- children are more likely to eat a lunch they participated in making
- saves you a bit of time (eventually)
Children can start by just gathering the supplies for snacks, learn how to use snack preparation tools (like apple cutters or butter knives) and progress into learning how to make a sandwich (or more complicated dishes).
This slowly builds not just a confidence of their own capabilities, but also makes independence a habit. Especially if you set up self-serve stations or designate a special spot for their snacks or drinks in the fridge, children feel empowered to get themselves a drink or a snack when they need one, rather than being subject to a grown-up’s availability (having to wait five minutes for a drink while a parent tends to a younger sibling to finishes up a bath becomes less of an issue when they have the option to help themselves).
After children feel confident with the basics of preparing food, you can start laying the foundations for understanding healthy eating. I’ve written before about how we have instilled a family food culture and healthy eating philosophy, and to support you in teaching your children about healthy eating habits I’ve worked with Alecia from Learning2Walk to develop this free printable board game about healthy eating.
Well before children are off to school, you can instill one day per week that children help pre-make a boxed lunch and practice retrieving it and putting all of their items back in their lunch boxes when they are done.
You can do this with actual food, or you can incorporate it into play by offering play dough alongside a lunch box and suggesting that your child “create a healthy meal” and then discuss it’s merits together. (Sensory activities for kids are a great way to encourage them to deeply remember what they are learning.) Or, skip the play dough and spend some time in your child’s play kitchen making lunches out of play food.
When it comes to actually making their lunches for school (or homeschool), there are few different ways you can go about things:
- have your child make the snacks while you prepare the main dish
- work alongside your child on all parts of the lunch
- allow your child to make their lunches on certain days, or whenever they feel like it
- pre-assemble several options and have your child pick items to include in their lunch
- prepare the week’s lunches in advance (freeze the Thursday and Friday meals if necessary)
- have your child make lunch while you prepare supper
You can purchase cute bento-style accessories to decorate their lunches, or cookbooks like Best Lunch Box Ever or Yum-Yum Bento Box to inspire children when they are helping decide what to make. Personally, as long as the meal is balanced, I think however a child wants to go about things is great. Just be sure to go over their lunch with them to make any substitutions or suggestions (especially if your school has food restrictions or allergy policies).
Whichever tactics you choose to employ when teaching children how to make their own lunches, keep the experience positive and any small issues (like a month of mustard and cheese sandwiches every day) will work themselves out in the end.
FROM LEFT TO RIGHT:
School Bus Color Match Puzzles // Modern Preschool
3 Word Cloud Back to School Puzzles // Lalymom
Back to School Process Art // Still Playing School
Morning Routine Story Stones // Sugar Aunts
Fun Ways to Teach Kids to Pack Their Lunch // Sugar, Spice and Glitter
Easy, Kid-Made Phone Number Bracelets // Mama. Papa. Bubba.
Back to School Bingo // Playdough to Plato
Back to School I Spy // The Pleasantest Thing
ABC Photo Book // Powerful Mothering
Back to School Puzzles for Counting to 10 // Life Over C’s
Patterns with Erasers // Frogs Snails and Puppy Dog Tails
Shape Puzzles Busy Bag // Teach Me Mommy
Back to School Name Practice with Playdough // Stay at Home Educator
Back to School File Folder Games // Itsy Bitsy Fun
Back to School Mapping Our Classroom // Liz’s Early Learning Spot
Back to School Teacher Gift // Think Magnet
Free Back to School Memory Book // DIY Farm Wife
Flower Craftivity // Fairy Poppins
Free Alphabet Book // The Kindergarten Connection
Back to School Memory Game // Play and Learn Everyday
DIY Name Stamps // Preschool Inspirations