To be annoyed at the school re lunch?(36 Posts)
My LB is 4 and in reception. I have always made a point of never making food an issue. I don't force him to eat if he doesn't want to. I want him to learn to listen to his body. We all eat the same meal every evening and he eats a wide and varied range of foods. Fish, olives, etc. If he doesn't do well with dinner he isn't allowed crappy snack foods but he is allowed access to the fruit bowl at all times. He isn't a fussy eater at all but there are things he doesn't like including pasta (weirdly) and salad vegetables. I ask that he at least tries new things and I'm happy if he tries. He is not much of a lunch eater. He generally fills right up at breakfast (2 bowls of cereal or a sausage sandwich or similar) kind of grazes in the day and we have dinner at around 5.
Since he started reception in September I have been spoken to on a few occasions about him not eating lunch. They say he isn't really eating much at all and they're worried. I said not to worry as he has a good/big breakfast and I don't force him to eat at home. I offered to send packed lunch incase it's the food that's the issue and apparently it's not really allowed unless I write to the head?! I have tried having a chat with him about eating more at lunch time but I don't want to push it too much.
At the most recent parents evening the lunch issue came up again and it turns out they're eating really early (11ish) which to me explains why he isn't very hungry. He also comes of school ravenous!
Anyway, I always ask him what his best part and worst part of his day was on the way home and today he said lunchtime as if they've not eaten they have to sit at a different table and finish whilst everyone else goes out to play. I can't stop thinking about this now. I'm his parent and I've never forced him to eat, I just don't agree with it! I feel like there's a constant pressure on parents about kids eating too much or too little. He is average height and weight, sleeps well, is alert and active. I'm not worried so they have no reason to be.
Should I go in and have a chat with them or am I overthinking it? I've asked my partner and he thinks I'm making a mountain out of a molehill.
God that was a bit of a rant. Sorry in advance
I think you should talk to them. I am doing the same with my dd and this complete contradiction to everything I do would annoy me.
I think the school basically equating eating to good behaviour is a bad thing. I especially hate those schools that give stickers to children who eat all their lunch - that's not an achievement ot just means other children were less hungry!
I had this with DS and his first school which I took him out of after 2 terms because of bullying.
The teacher (who I didn't 'take' to) said he wasn't eating his lunch. DS doesn't like potato (fair enough) so was leaving it. That was deemed unacceptable so they were making him finish.
Sometimes he'd come out with a sticker saying, 'I ate all of my lunch!'
I started doing a packed lunch instead. Just seemed easier. He could say what went in it.
The teachers did have a weird attitude to food. I once asked if they'd eat something they really didn't like but that was just met with faces.
I won't touch tomato. Ever. Can't bear it. If DS feels the same about potato then that's fine. He eats plenty of other stuff.
I also wouldn't cram food into my gob once I was full
unless it was chocolate and I had PMT.
Turned out it wasn't 'potato' he hated. Was just the way the school cooked it (packet Smash or potatoes boiled dry).
Tell the teacher's to back off. If he's full then he's full. They're going to cause mass eating disorders if they carry on.
And having lunch at 11am is bullshit.
Tell them to organise themselves!!
Try giving him less at breakfast for a week to see if that then picks up his appetite in the middle of the day. Children need food in the middle of the day to be able to concentrate properly/have energy for the afternoon sessions. If he ate at lunch he wouldn't be starving when you picked him up.
Children have to fit in at school, and lunch halls are one step from chaos at the best of times.
If he is not ready for a group lunch, then the old fashioned going home for lunch might be the best option.
two hundred odd kids in a school, all with parents who do things differently. So it may be that you need to alter what you do to fit into the school day. Best solution might be to pack him up a dinner but to my mind there is nothing wrong in allowing more time for the slow eaters to finish,
I'd give him less to eat at breakfast time and monitor the separate table issue for now.
I would speak to them. Food issues last a lifetime - I know. I can't really remember very much about primary school but the lunch hall superviser saying "I thought you were supposed to be on a diet" in front of everyone as I tucked into my school dinner still brings me out in a cold sweat. It was the last school dinner I ever ate. Just ask that when he says he has had enough to eat he is allowed to leave the table along with those who are deemed to have eaten enough.
I am not surprised that he doesn't want to eat at 11am, I couldn't!
I would go in and have a chat about it.
I'd speak to the school,, reassure them you are relaxed about him eating to his appetite....I'd consider a small packed lunch if the school won't listen. I wouldn't cut down on breakfast if he enjoys eating it. I had something similar a few weeks back. Dd got told off for not eating her cake - ffs - she stops eating when she is full, that is what she is encouraged to do at home.
Apparently one child hadn't been eating lunch all year, so rather than deal with that one child - they introduce a blanket policy of harassing all the children.
Eating at school mealtimes isn't just about eating. It's about learing manners, being sociable, conforming etc etc, and this will be the same throughout his life. I don't think that teaching him that it's OK to "do your own thing" will help him longer term. Sometimes you just have to conform for the greater good. The school can't cope with separate arrangements for all it's kids, and I'm sure you'd prefer they spend their budget on somthing else anyway.
If he's not eating lunch because he's not hungry after eating a big breakfast, give him a smaller breakfast - simples.
It's really not worth a full scale argument with the school about this - pick your battles!
I think him being very hungry after school is an issue. He needs to learn how to eat in a way that isn't grazing as that isn't compatible with a school day but I don't think he should be pushed to eat all the food on his plate.
The sitting on a seperate table whilst they finish dinner could just be a practical solution so they can start cleaning the other tables.
Could you put a stop to the grazing at home and encourage 3 meals a day?
My son eats lunch at 10.45 at nursery, we don't eat lunch at 10.45 but we have started eating earlier and earlier to fit in with their routine as I can't expect them to mirror our routine, it's my responsibility to get my son to the point where he eats at their times.
Eating lunch at 11? That's ridiculous. Of course the children are going to be less hungry (assuming they have breakfast) and then famished by 3.30 or whatever time they come home. I've worked in huge schools and little ones and we've never had to resort to getting children to eat at 11!
I agree with you OP. I've never made a fuss about food with my Dd and it would seriously piss me off if someone had done this at school. Once you'd told them you were relaxed about it and that he eats plenty at home they ought to have left it.
Definitely send a small packed lunch instead.
I think the problem there is that they are eating so early! Do they have a snack at morning break as well?
I agree with your sentiments and I think it's cruel to make kids miss out on playtime if they don't want to eat
but it's up to you to make him adapt with a smaller breakfast, a packed lunch that you can make a bit smaller etc.
Agree that you could help him a bit by decreasing breakfast size a little bit but stand by the fact that yanbu.
As others have said, a school dining hall just cannot have 200 different "rules" for 200 different kids. For each kid whose parent lets them do what they want wrt food, there will be another who thinks they should eat what is put in front of them.
Not eating lunch shouldn't be equated with a punishment though either....
However, he is old enough now to have some proper rules about meals at home, and at school. Access to the fruit bowl at all times is not a good thing (especially for his teeth! Fruit sugar is worse than anything except fizzy drinks my dentist said) Who wouldn't prefer a kiwi or strawberry instead of a boring old dinner?
And, sorry, but from your OP, he clearly is a fussy eater! That breakfast is insane!
I don't think 11 is too early, necessarily, it depends on what time the school day starts and finishes.
When dd was in nursery (from age 3-6 here, all day) they had lunch at 1130.
Obviously, when you've had a 3 course full English only a couple of hours beforehand, it might be.
So they are eating lunch at morning break? Not good. And there will be more of this soon as schools struggle to accommodate universal free school lunches for infants.
I'm with you, OP. Your child's body isn't a bin for unwanted food.
I would email the school and say he has permission to leave unwanted food.
I really hate this, the constant interference in our children's diets. Agree that we're setting our kids up for a lifetime of issues around food. My DD goes to a school that has the 'lunchbox police' - we roll our eyes inwardly whilst adhering to the rules. I was extremely annoyed yesterday though when she came home and said that they had been discussing healthy eating (again!) and her teacher had told all the children that they are 'not allowed' chocolate spread sandwiches. I said yes, that's right, you're not allowed them in your lunch boxes. DD said no no mummy, Mrs X said we are not allowed to eat them AT ALL as they are bad for us. I smiled tightly and muttered something about well it's nice to have a treat occasionally isn't it, but I was seething - it is none of the school's business what my child eats when she's not there - she's a high energy skinny minnie and an occasional Nutella sandwich on whole meal bread is exactly the sort of stuff my GP recommended to get some calories into her!
Oh, and lunch at 11.00 is ludicrous, no wonder he's not hungry!
' but to my mind there is nothing wrong in allowing more time for the slow eaters to finish'
there is if it means they can't get those on later sittings in!!
I can't believe that people think a smaller breakfast and lunch at a ridiculously early hour is better! At a guess it sounds like they have bulged at some point because they have the classroom space but struggle to get all the kids into one hall for lunch - not their fault. But separating kids out is awful. I am so worried for DD when she starts school, she is fussy and doesn't have much of an appetite anyway, even if she hasn't had much for lunch she'll rarely say she's hungry so it doesn't matter. Her nursery never insist on the children finishing, though if they see a child has done well in that they've tried something new, they are encouraging. But I worry she'll miss all her playtime because of this when she just doesn't eat much, and that will affect how she feels about school.
If you can take in a packed lunch I would do so, pointing out to the head while you're at it that making a show of children who don't eat much and having lunch at stupid o'clock are very unhelpful.
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