I’m sending my daughter off to kindergarten this year (in whatever form that looks like), and there are a thousand questions running through my head.
Will she make friends? Will she be able to find her classroom? Will she get along with her teacher?
I want to prepare her for everything, and while I realize that’s not entirely possible, I decided that in an unprecedented school year, even the little things could make a big difference.
So we decided to practice lunch.
Now, just to clarify, I’ve obviously been feeding my child lunch for the last five years of her life. But at our house, lunch is a really informal affair. It might be a grab and go sandwich, it might look more like some afternoon grazing on crackers and vegetables. What I didn’t want to happen was for her to pull out her lunchbox on the first day of class and realize the zipper was difficult for her to get open, or that she couldn’t get the lid off her drink.
We started the process at our usual hangout: Target. We let her pick out a lunchbox, along with some matching containers and thermoses for inside.
Once we were back home and got everything cleaned up, we packed up her lunch. Turkey and cheese sandwich, some strawberries, and pretzels. All things she was familiar with and we knew she’d enjoy.
When the clock struck noon, it was time to get down to business.
I explained to her that we were going to practice lunch so she’d be ready for lunchtime at her new school this fall. She’s very familiar with and excited about kindergarten as a concept, so adding this new feature had her excited to participate. I told her that we were going to set a timer for 15 minutes. She needed to open her lunchbox, take her lunch out, and finish it before the timer went off. When she was done, she’d need to close all of her containers back up and zip her lunchbox closed.
What I really wanted this exercise to focus on was two things: First, that she could physically get all of her lunch containers open and closed on her own, so that wasn’t slowing her down at school lunches. And second was to eat her entire lunch within a defined period of time, rather than grazing or leaving something to come back to it later.
The verdict? Success! She was able to get everything open, finish her lunch, and put away before the timer went off. We’ve practiced a few more times since then, partly for consistency, and partly because she keeps asking to use her lunchbox. Hopefully now one of my many, many questions and concerns for the fall can be quelled, just a little bit.