The graduation from kindergarten to standard 1 is a time of pride for parents. But full day school brings its own set of challenges changeover to a larger school building, longer school timings, an early start to the day, making new friends, a commute by the school bus, etc. But perhaps the thought at the back of every mom's mind is will my child be able to finish his lunch box?
And though there are a ton of recipes for lunch box ideas for children available, maybe as mothers we are still missing something. So if you're child is coming home with his box unfinished, read on:
Here are some tips to help your child:
This is the first and most vital step. Ask yourself straight off, do you want to raise a child who is independent and takes pride in finishing a task or is your sole aim making your child eat large quantities of food, by hook or crook -force feeding them, bribing them to eat etc. If your child has never eaten on her own at home then how will she be able to finish her lunch box in school?
2. Teachers will help them, Right? Wrong
If you have not equipped your child with the life skills of eating on his own, finishing a meal on time, and knowing when he is full then why do you expect him to learn it at school? How will one or two teachers and an ayah be able to look into each child's box and ensure they eat? Why blame the school?
3. An Eye on the Clock
You maybe rice eaters and no day are considered complete without some rice consumption. But rice may be difficult to manage for some children and they may take a long time to finish. If you must send rice, pack it in the form of idlis or dosas. Same problem with noodles and spaghetti and fruits such as pomegranate. Imagine a child picking up one noodle at a time. The thumb rule to follow is that the food should be easy to pick up and place in the mouth, whether he is eating by hand, or using a spoon or fork.
Imagine how the lunch box will look when opened and not when you pack. Browned cut apples, squishy cut bananas, soggy rotis with vegetable and salad and nuts all together do not look very appetizing. Put a little apple cider vinegar on apples so that they do not brown. Do not peel and cut bananas. Avoid watery dals and sambars. Buy a box with compartments to avoid mixing up of dishes.
5. Do not be Overly Ambitious
Five-course meals, multiple boxes, large quantities are a strict no-no. You know your child's capacity best. If he can manage only one roti at home, don't expect him to miraculously finish three rotis, dal, salad and a fruit in school. Even if he shares, he cannot finish copious amounts. You are only setting him up for failure if he cannot finish his box every day.
6. Pack Foods he Likes
If he doesn't like brinjal at home, he doesn't like brinjal at school. Simple.
7. Eye on Nutrition
Though I'm not a trained nutritionist, which mother is not a self-taught one? If you want to add calcium and protein for lunchtime pack paneer , a cheese slice or a packed yogurt. Add dal to flour and make dal rotis instead of sending a dal separately. Steamed lentils like chick peas make for a good high-protein snack. Dry fruits make a great option too. Make palak rotis or puris or pasta for an iron rich meal. Saute vegetables like carrots and broccoli and mix a little cheese dip. As always, keep sugars to a minimum and packaged instant foods away.
8. Aim for 80%
Picture this - When you go to pick your child up from school, you ask how his day was and whether he finished his lunch. Your child says he had a nice time, and that he completely ate his lunch. When you reach home and pull out the box to wash, you realize two carrot sticks still lie there. What do you do? Well, whatever you do, no yelling. Try to keep in mind, that 80% of the meal has been consumed, and that's a good thing.
9. Lunch Boxes
Ensure that he does not need help to open lunch boxes. Limit the number of boxes to one or two. Too many boxes are confusing and the child may lose focus. Food wrapped in silver foil may be difficult to unwrap, and kids may accidently swallow the foil. Rotis wrapped in tissues may get soggy.
10. Water Bottles
Several parents worry that their kids do not drink enough water. Less intake of water is one of the reasons for Urinary Tract Infections. Maybe the bottles are a hindrance. Bottles with a thick straw or a small opening work best say preschooler teachers. Also, avoid sippy cups. Yes, it's a wondrous invention, but they are more difficult to clean and in turn breed germs.
Be a support, not a hindrance during your child's transition. He may be a little distracted and slow in the beginning. But every child will pick up the pace soon enough. There may be good days and bad. Celebrate the good ones, ignore the bad.
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