School Lunches Can Teach Independence...
There are so many learning opportunities to teach our kids independence and help them stand on their own two feet and school lunches are no exception.
In our house, when you start high school, you're on your own!
My husband and I helped make lunches for our oldest son when he started kindergarten years ago as he gained independence and confidence. Our family rule is that you make your own lunch once you start high school and it's working out quite well. Now he loves to take pasta, soup, salad and other healthy options as he's trying to eat better and swap out sweet snacks full of sugar - another benefit of getting older and more mature. He's noticing a difference in his energy levels when he eats well and as he grows he definitely loves his Fridge-to-go Medium Lunch Bag that he can stuff with even more food than normal. He uses a dark navy bag that generally stays in his backpack and is low key - you don't want to be noticed in high school!
Our younger son, who's still in primary school, has his lunches made for him still although he's having more and more input. Baby steps! As he gets older we get him more involved. At the supermarket we get him to suggest lunch box options ensuring there is a good mix of healthy treats. He loves leftover fried rice (perfect in our Stainless Steel Bento Box) and pizza along with seasonal fruits beyond the simple sandwich (for more options go here) so we're always trying to shake things up. Finger food is key so he can grab it and go play with his friends - it needs to be easy! He uses the Fridge-to-go Medium Lunch Bag as well but loves the chevron or addition patterns. He also always has a bamboo spork in his bag for those meals that require one especially if he earns a special lunch order as his school canteen no longer stocks single use plastic utensils (awesome!).
Both kids have always had to unpack their lunch bags as soon as they get home putting any uneaten food back in the fridge, containers in the dishwasher and panels back in the freezer ready for the next day. If they've had any bad spills they know how to wipe them out and hang them to dry. Generally every school holidays we pop these in a cold delicate wash inside a mesh bag and hang them in the sun to get them fresh and bacteria-free once again.
We've started having the boys cook a meal a week together for the family so they learn to ensure they have all ingredients, can follow a recipe and work together to share the responsibility. They're learning to make extra so there's left over for lunch the next day and by the end of high school we want them to have a minimum of 10 different meals they can prepare. At least they'll be able to feed themselves!
For more help raising boys you can't go past Celia Lashlie's book He'll Be Ok that is a clear guide to producing independent and healthy boys.
These are simple jobs but they are setting up our kids to be responsible and self-sufficient not only at school but in life. What jobs do your kids do to help their growth to be more independent?