A couple of weeks ago I put out a call to Ottawa parents asking them about lunch time at their children`s school. There has been lots of discussion lately surrounding school lunches in areas where the food is provided, but there is more to lunch than just the actual food. It is about the act of sitting down with friends and enjoying a meal. Socializing over food and seeing it for the experience it is, rather than something you hurry through to get to the good stuff.
What I found was that most kids have about 20 minutes to eat. All kids have basic rules about not running around or being too loud. There are some schools, that in my personal opinion, are taking steps to make lunch a special time of the day. Allowing kids to move their seats so that they are eating with friends (that they are often not sitting with during class time to minimize the socialization), to talk as long as it stays at a normal level, and some going so far as to hold lunch after recess so that kids do not rush through their meal so that they can play along with several other potential benefits.
For every school that was taking steps towards a positive lunch experience there were those that were taking a step back. Some kids reported that they were not only not allowed to talk during lunch, but they actually were to sit at their desk and watch videos and television while eating instead of using the time to socialize and break bread with their peers.
For my house hold, the kid`s class is in the less positive stream. I plan to speak with her teacher. I realize there are some circumstances where the level of discipline and order during lunch may seem to be necessary, but I also feel like my child is missing out on a wonderful opportunity to bond with her friends and learn proper eating habits such as taking time out of your day to enjoy food as an event, not just a way to get sustenance.
Thank you so much to all the parents who helped me by going over my questionnaire with their kids. I hope you found it as eye opening as I did, and I encourage other parents to talk to their kids about their lunch time routines.