Breakfast in the Classroom

Apr 1, 2016 | Back To School, Management | 7 comments

Breakfast in the Classroom Tips and Tricks

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.

Breakfast in the Classroom

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.

Breakfast in the Classroom Tips and Tricks for Teachers

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.  

Breakfast in the Classroom Tips and Tricks

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!

Be sure to follow along on Instagram and Twitter if you cannot attend.  I will be sharing from the event.


  1. Becca

    I’d be much happier with the program if it was more nutritious. Most of the breakfasts consist of high sugar and carbs with little nutritional benefit to the students. Most of the food provided to the children gets them started on a “sugar high” and then 90 minutes later they are hungry again. If we want to ensure that our little ones are fed and can focus then we need to do better for our students. Even my Kindergarten students asked about the numbers on the labels, meaning the calories and grams of sugar. I didn’t look at calories, but we counted the grams of sugar and even they were surprised by how much they were eating each morning. I hope this changes in the near future.

  2. Belle

    after a year of struggling with breakfast in the classroom… I have just accepted that I lose about 15 minutes of teaching time in the morning. Are the students better prepared/less hungry when they eat breakfast in classroom rather than the cafeteria.. not at all. Do they think it is cool to eat in the classroom? yes! Do they (most days) take price and ownership of keeping our room clean? Yes. Do I like cleaning up spilled milk on my carpet and the spoiled milk smell all day, no. If I had a choice I would not have breakfast in the classroom. I make it work because I will make the best of any situation for my students! It’s who I am as a teacher!

  3. Katy

    We do breakfast in the morning pretty much exactly like you do. My main problem with breakfast is keeping the kids at an appropriate noise level. I teach at an urban title I school, so my kids have noise level problems in general. I usually have them do a morning work worksheet just because it helps them keep their voices low, but I don’t WANT the worksheet. I just throw it out or it ends up in a big messy pile. Also then I have to keep them accountable for completing it and when you have slow eaters, late arrivers, or kids who can’t multi-task that doesn’t seem fair. Do you have any suggestions on how to keep breakfast a calm time or is it just a matter of drilling the routine at the beginning of the year?

  4. eatingasapathtoyoga

    We are not allowed to do anything related to food. Kids can bring their own snacks, but no food can be given by school in the classroom… not for projects/bday parties/holiday parties WAY TOO MANY allergy issues for that.

    • Jennifer @ Simply Kinder

      By breakfast in the classroom I am referring to programs that help to fund students eating in your classroom – not teachers just giving kids food. It’s a little different than district restrictions on food. My school actually had an approved food list we were allowed to use in classroom (which did not include cupcakes). But the breakfast came from the cafeteria just the same as students got lunch in the cafeteria. =)

  5. Dana

    I have to admit, I was one that thought it would be a pain to have breakfast in the classroom. However, the things I thought would be an issue weren’t. I did struggle with slow eaters of students coming in late and still wanting to eat. In the end, I think it was a cruicial part of our day and it was th calm before the storms lol.

    • Jennifer @ Simply Kinder

      I think timing was always the biggest struggle.. how can we expect them to do morning work while eating? What do I do when a student comes late and needs to eat? As teachers we figure it out and make it work right. =) Thanks for stopping by!


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