Thursday, August 30, 2012

..back to school..

And so begins another school year. Can you believe it? I can't. This week we had the first day of school for the older two...3rd and 1st grades. The littlest will start her first year of preschool in a week or so, although she is almost a full year older than her siblings when they entered the same grade (so it goes for a November birthday). It will be a busy year, indeed.

One of the biggest stresses, for me, is packing my kid's lunch. It is not uncommon for me to open the lunchbox at the end of the day and find a lunch barely touched. I realize that within the allotted 10-15 minutes of their lunch hour, they may struggle to finish the entire lunch. More often than not, however, I feel as though they are just disinterested in the contents of the lunchbox itself.

This year, I am attempting to make them responsible for their lunch. They will have the task of putting  together their own lunch for the day. In addition, I will take the opportunity to talk to them about what constitutes a well-balanced meal. Left unchecked, these children would choose a piece of bread and a handful of chocolate chips for lunch. *sigh*  Thus, my lunch chart was born.

I took white boards that we had laying around, and I created different magnets of possible lunch choices. I did this using cardstock, double-stick tape, scrapbooking scissors, laminating sheets, and self-stick magnets I had lying around the house. Is it terribly obvious that I am a former teacher?? In creating the choices, I broke down the food groups as follows: protein, vegetable, fruit, and grain. To me, that constitutes a well-balanced lunch. I opt out of the "sweet," simply because that will be the only thing eaten (and I speak from experience, here).

The choices are color coded, so that the kids can recognize when they have a balanced lunch. Proteins are red, vegetables are green, fruits are yellow, and grains are blue. Some choices are mixes, but the colors reflect that. Their task is to choose a combination of available items so that they have one of each color, at least. My hope is that by giving them the freedom to choose what is inside their lunchbox, there will be an increase in the likelihood they eat a bigger portion of it. My preschooler is also getting in on the fun, even though she will eat lunch at home.

After their choices are made, it will be up for approval from the parent. When approval is given, then we'll get down to the business of making the lunch. Ideally, the lunch will be made the night before, but there are certain items that are best made the morning of. Either way, having this responsibility fall squarely on the shoulders of the kids will be a big relief for this Momma. I'm sure there are roadblocks to be faced as the school year progresses. I am hopeful that by arming them with a certain amount of autonomy , and the knowledge of how to best nourish their bodies, much less time will be spent eating the leftover lunch after school.

A girl can dream, anyway.

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