No matter what neighborhood you teach in there will always be kids who come to school hungry; it’s part of the world we live in. If your school does breakfast in the classroom though, this is one less factor you have tackle when getting kids to learn.
Why I Love Breakfast in the Classroom
I have to be honest, I was never skeptical of having breakfast in the classroom. Many teachers had heard that it was messy, loss of already valuable academic time, and one more thing to manage and so many teachers were not happy about this change. I never had those feelings. I went into breakfast in the classroom knowing that it would build community and ensure every child had a good breakfast. And as a parent, I can tell you some mornings are not always seamless. Breakfast in the classroom ensured to me as a teacher that no matter what that child faced that morning, they would have a good breakfast and time to regroup before the day started. We were feeding our brains and preparing emotionally for the work ahead. Very powerful stuff.
So here are some ideas for making breakfast in the classroom work for you.
Know What is Expected from the School and Cafeteria
Know what your school or cafeteria expectations are. Here’s some of the expectations that I was expected to follow:
- Every child who eats takes at least 3 items even if they don’t eat them.
- Children could opt out of having breakfast that day.
- Teachers were to fill out a form each day saying how many students were present, how many ate, and if I ate too. (PS – I am a sucker for breakfast corndog day! YUM)
- Trash had to be put in the provided black trash bag only. The bag was to be tied in a knot and placed outside my door by a certain time.
- Breakfast ended and the day should be started no later than 20 minutes past the bell.
Have a Clear Classroom Plan
Have a clear system in place for your students. If you want it done a certain way, teach them and be there to support them. Give your plan your best effort to make it work BUT don’t be afraid to alter it if need be. Your classroom routine may change throughout the year too as students are more able to be more independent.
- My class worked towards this:
- Students come in, unpack, grabbed breakfast from the table.
- Students ate their breakfast.
- When they were done they could get up and throw their trash away.
- They would then start their morning work which was usually located by the trash.
- I would give a 5 minute warning. Students had to eat quick and throw breakfast away.
- Students were allowed to talk and socialize quietly during this time as long as eating was the priority.
- A neighboring class worked towards this:
- Students came in and unpacked.
- Students stayed at their seats where their morning work was already waiting.
- The teacher called one table at a time to get breakfast.
- Students ate and then finished morning work.
- Teacher called one table at a time to throw trash away.
- Students typically did not talk because they were eating or working.
Both methods worked, it really just depends on what you are comfortable with. Make a plan and embrace breakfast in the classroom if you have the this opportunity for your class.
Some Tips and Lessons Learned
- Certain foods will have certain quirks. (LOL). Muffins crumble everywhere and orange fruit cups might explode when they open. Get to know the food you are serving and be prepared to intervene. You might also see patterns in the menu to be able to know what comes when.
- Have a class job be to monitor breakfast. This student can open the breakfast warmers, make sure each person gets 3 things, and take the trash out.
- (I say) don’t use placemats. I tried it and it became an issue. Who is going to clean them everyday? And they stick together before, during, and after cleaning. It sounded like a good idea but it only lasted about a week.
- Have students cut the paper towels in half and use half as a placemat.
I am a firm believer in breakfast in the classroom! I can tell you from personal experience that more of my students were focused and ready for the day because of our breakfast in the classroom.
Let’s Make a Difference Together
I am excited to have been invited as a guest at the Valley of the Sun United Way’s We Are United benefit lunch with speaker Leigh Anne Tuohy (the mom from The Blind Side). This lunch benefits Arizona’s breakfast in the classroom program which already provides lunches for many classrooms here in Arizona. Did you know that it only takes $4000 to fund an entire schools program for a whole year? Events like this make a huge impact on students far beyond just putting some food in their bellies! I would love to have others join me at this event, if you are able to join (or just donate) follow this link and select me (Jennifer @SimplyKinder) so we can sit together! bit.ly/1T8s4xS