How to get your child ready for eating at school

If your little one is off to big school this year, it’s an exciting milestone!

There are a lot of new things they will experience, and one of the biggest changes they face will be eating at school. Eating at school is a completely different experience to eating at home or preschool.

There’s nowhere to keep food cool and it can’t be warmed up. Your child won’t sit at a table, but instead will sit on a bench or the ground and balance their food on their knees. They also need to be capable of unwrapping their food and opening packets on their own, and eat quickly so they don’t miss out on playtime.

But the transition can go smoothly if you practice at home with your child before their first day.

Here are some tips for helping them.

  • Buy a lunchbox and drink bottle and make them a packed lunch at home. Have a picnic in your backyard and see if they can open their lunchbox, take the lid off their drink bottle, unwrap their sandwiches and open packets of food. If there’s something they struggle with, practice a bit more, or come up with an easier alternative for them.
  • Pack food that’s easy to open, hold and eat and that’s not too messy
  • A frozen drink helps keep food cold on a hot day and will have melted enough for them to drink by recess
  • Use insulated lunch boxes or cooler bags and write your child’s name on everything, even lids
  • Take your child to school and show them how to use the bubbler

If you’re not sure what kinds of food are good to pack, try some of these recess and lunch ideas:

  • Cut fruit and vegetables into small pieces and put them in a container or a zip lock bag
  • Make wholemeal muffins and freeze them
  • Sandwiches are ideal. If you’re using tomato, put it between other fillings to stop the bread from going soggy.
  • Try different breads such as rolls, pita bread and tortilla wraps
  • Cook extra at dinner time and use the leftovers for lunch the next day. Quiche, frittata, pizza and sausage rolls are great for lunch boxes.

Starting school is a wonderful time, and one that your child will love once they have their eating practices under control. Summer holidays are a perfect time to rehearse with some picnics, so get out there and enjoy the sunshine!