It’s not so long ago that lunchtime could have been viewed as a break from education - a time where the staff had a rest and the children ran around. However, with pupil wellbeing a major focus in the new Curriculum for Wales, lunchtimes have become an important part of the curriculum. But why?
Firstly, it’s about food and healthy eating. With the introduction of free school meals for all pupils we are seeing children try new foods and consider the importance of their choices. With most children now having ‘cinio poeth’, it is more important than ever that those children who prefer ‘brechdanau’ are provided with a healthy packed lunch. We all know what children are like when it comes to sweets and chocolate, so it would be really helpful if parent/carers could avoid filling lunch boxes with treats. It’s hard to get a small person to finish their broccoli when the child next to them is tucking into a Twix! We are grateful to the kitchen staff, who have adapted smoothly to the increased numbers and work so hard to cater for all dietary requirements and are delighted to see so many children enjoying a healthy hot lunch.
When the plate is clean, it’s time for play. For some, this is the highlight of the day. They have many friends, the skills to socialise and every playtime is a joy of creativity, exercise and laughter. This is not the case for many children who find play difficult. They may struggle with social skills, communication, self-esteem or regulation of emotions. It is lunchtime when they learn to overcome these difficulties and are helped by other children. Of course, things go wrong, there are arguments and tears, but this is learning. I have been particularly impressed, this week, with the way our eldest children have helped some of our younger children. They have provided the unconditional love in which others, who have been struggling with play, can grow.
This is why lunchtimes are such an important part of our educational curriculum. They are a time to ‘Grow in Love’.