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Cafeteria and the introverted child-kindergarten

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

I have joined my child a few times this fall for lunch in the cafeteria. I have an introvert:very quiet and clearly very drained from all the commotion and noise of the cafeteria. Curious to know if other schools have alternatives to eating in the big, loud, busy and squish all the kids in like sardines at the table cafeteria? Introverts need to recharge in quiet away from large groups and the school lunch room is just too much. IDEAS??? I want to have all my ducks in a row before I address the school with the issue-because as of now I have a feeling the response will be that my child needs to get used to it and deal with it.

post #2 of 16

I volunteered in my son's school working with a 3rd grade teacher (I worked with her for 4 years).  Often the teacher would ask me to eat lunch with a student or two who needed a little extra attention.  Instead of the big noisy cafeteria, we would find an empty classroom (or in the library) and eat together, talk, play board games or cards.  It was something I always looked forward to, and the kids seemed to get a boost from a little 1:1 time or small group time.  

 

Maybe you could ask to do something similar and include a friend or 2 from your child's classroom to join you? 

 

 

post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thank you JPiper.  I like this idea. I am going to suggest it and volunteer my time to do this once per week. Hopefully I can get some other volunteers too. My child really needs to recharge and not be in the crazy cafeteria=it's hard to make new friends also when you can't even hear each other! Something NEEDS to be done though!

 

post #4 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by mainemommy1 View Post

 My child really needs to recharge and not be in the crazy cafeteria=it's hard to make new friends also when you can't even hear each other! Something NEEDS to be done though!

 


I say this gently, but I would be even more concerned that if my child was being pulled out of lunchtime consistently, that the other kids would notice, think this was strange, and make it even more difficult for my child to make friends.  Maybe whatever solution you could work towards could have some balance so that your child could spend some time in the lunch room and some time getting some quiet time.  Maybe you could pick her up for lunch one day a week or something?  I don't know.  I see where you are coming from but also think there is some value in kids learning to adapt in various environments too. 
 

 

post #5 of 16

When I first volunteered in the classroom, I was sensing my son was being extra clingy to me and it wasn't helping him to get settled in the classroom.  His very experienced Kindergarten teacher suggested I volunteer with another class and it ended up  being a great experience all the way around.  I would spend one day a week at school, getting to take DS to his classroom and stay with him for the the beginning of the day routine.  I would then leave to spend the majority of the day helping with another teacher.  I would then go back to my son's k class to help with end of the day recess and dismissal.  

 

Even though I wasn't there with my son for the whole day, it felt 'special' to him.  My son got a little boost from having me bring him to/from school, and visit in his class, albeit briefly.  He liked that he would get to wave hi in the hallway once in a while and his friends would say "I saw your mom!".  I think it was reassuring to him that I was close by, but also helped him transition to the school environment vs. focusing on me in his classroom.  

 

I developed a great relationship with the 3rd grade teacher I was "assigned to", working with her for a number of years.  I esp. enjoyed getting to know a variety of kids over the years during the small group lunches.  Rather than making the kids feel separate from the classroom group, I sensed the small groups were a chance to make social connections with other kids in their class, and because the groups rotated, everyone in the class was able to be included multiple times through out the year (once a month or so).  This teacher had a couple of parents each week helping in this capacity.

 

My time volunteering with the school allowed me to develop a positive relationship with administrators and teachers in the school, above an beyond my own child's classroom.  My son really benefited from getting to know many of his classmate's parents and family members.  

post #6 of 16

Oh, and one more thing OP!  While my son was used to child care and a full day, 5 day a week preschool at age 4, the transition to "real" school was not easy.  He liked it well enough from the start, but I remember he did not seem to 'relax' until after the holiday break.  It's a big transition for a little person!

post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thank you J Piper! I really appreciate your insight and your experiences. I was an elementary teacher prior to having my son so it's a big adjustment to be on the parent side of things as well! The school does something similar to what you are describing with the guidance counselor and like you said, it rotates and is not viewed upon as weird or different at all but rather a special treat. I just think with more volunteers and parents, the school could reach more children, more often.

 

AP TODDLER MAMA: I see your point and understand what you are saying. yes, kids need to adapt to different environments, I do agree! I also have done a lot of research on introverts and extroverts and schools are set up for extroverts to succeed but don't always meet the needs of introverts-plus these children are little-age 5 and in school all day long:some have never been away from home, some went to part time preschool and others came from daycare. Many aspects of the day are such a huge adjustment. My child has not complained about the lunch at all-----I just see the need for some down time rather than constantly having to be socializing. Everyone needs a break but especially introverted kids who have their energy drained by being around big groups of people in situations such as lunch and there really isn't any break at school at all. Thanks for your insight! The thought had crossed my mind. I'm just trying to make school a bit easier and more friendly for not only my own child but other ones as well.

post #8 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by mainemommy1 View Post

AP TODDLER MAMA: I see your point and understand what you are saying. yes, kids need to adapt to different environments, I do agree! I also have done a lot of research on introverts and extroverts and schools are set up for extroverts to succeed but don't always meet the needs of introverts-plus these children are little-age 5 and in school all day long:some have never been away from home, some went to part time preschool and others came from daycare. Many aspects of the day are such a huge adjustment. My child has not complained about the lunch at all-----I just see the need for some down time rather than constantly having to be socializing. Everyone needs a break but especially introverted kids who have their energy drained by being around big groups of people in situations such as lunch and there really isn't any break at school at all. Thanks for your insight! The thought had crossed my mind. I'm just trying to make school a bit easier and more friendly for not only my own child but other ones as well.

I hear you.  I was a totally introverted young child and recall feeling super overwhelmed and drained in the earlier grades.  Maybe you could talk to the teacher about implementing more "quiet" times within the classroom's daily routine.  Something that would meet the needs of many different kids without pulling one or two out of the lunch situation.  Also, are you introverted?  Is it possible that you may be projecting your needs onto your child?  I am not asking you to respond to that question to me or anyone else...just giving you something to think about yourself.  I know sometimes I interpret DS's needs as being similar to my own, although sometimes they are quite different. 

post #9 of 16

 

How long is the lunch period and how much time is spent in the cafeteria? Typically, in junior schools, my dc have had about a 50 or 60 minute lunch, but were expected to finish eating and leave the cafeteria in 20 minutes. They headed for outdoor free play or lunchtime co-curriculars (drama, choir, yoga in the gym, book club in the library etc.) for the rest of the lunch period. I think a lot of students who needed a break would use that time and find a quiet space or one of the quieter activities until it was time to return to class. 

 

In the early primary grades, my dc ate in their classrooms, so it was a less overwhelming atmosphere. These were smaller junior schools and there was no cafeteria. In one K to 8 school, the primary students ate as a separate group in a "general purpose" room, rather than the school cafeteria which served the older students.

 

I think DD's former middle school now has a quiet room for students who have sensory processing issues and need a quiet place to decompress when they are getting overwhelmed. It's fairly small, but could do double duty for students who need a quiet space at lunchtime. 

 

Whatever options you consider proposing, I can see the school raising concerns about adequate supervision and increased demands on caretaking/janitorial services, so I'd be prepared to answer those questions. 

 

 

post #10 of 16
Thread Starter 

The kindergarten children sit for 30min for their lunch and then can go outside but they have to be sitting in the lunch room for 30min.....wearing their jackets for recess. The children who buy lunch at school typically have less time to eat than the 30min because they are waiting in line for part of the 30min time. There are 2 adults for approx 60children and these 2 adults monitor the lunch room-helping open things etc. The kids must raise their hands to go throw away their garbage.

 

 

 

post #11 of 16

When my ds was in K I used to sit with him at lunch a lot because it seemed to help his behavior (and he actually wanted me there everyday) but the noise was incredible--and on the other side of the divider wall was the gym! I would leave there soooooooooo drained. Noise still bothers ds, so I give him ear plugs to wear when he wants.

post #12 of 16

this is how it is at our lunch too. i dont think its 30 mins though. its well coordinated so that the buy lunch kids go in first and then the brought lunch kids so they almost sit down together to eat. the school has discovered 20 mins is good enough or the kids get too antsy and behaviours happen.

 

the quiet children are in there and the moment they get out of the lunch room, they go to their various corners to just do what they want. there is plenty of opportunity to be by themselves outside the rest 40 mins of lunch break... so it really hasnt been a problem.

 

3 grades eat together. (1st to 3rd) so about 200 kids. if the majority of the class raise their hands the supervisor checks to see if the kids have eaten well and then sends them out.

 

i see the quiet kids sit in one corner and dash out. K was different though. only K ate together with their teachers in the cafet. so that's about 60 kids with 3 adults. so they were spread out and it wasnt quite as noisy. none of the kids objected to the noise in the cafet. and even came for movie nights when almost the whole school sat in teh cafet.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mainemommy1 View Post

The kindergarten children sit for 30min for their lunch and then can go outside but they have to be sitting in the lunch room for 30min.....wearing their jackets for recess. The children who buy lunch at school typically have less time to eat than the 30min because they are waiting in line for part of the 30min time. There are 2 adults for approx 60children and these 2 adults monitor the lunch room-helping open things etc. The kids must raise their hands to go throw away their garbage.

 

 

 



 

post #13 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by mainemommy1 View Post

it's hard to make new friends also when you can't even hear each other!

 


I'd recommend helping her make friends outside of school time. You could see if there is a Daisy troop at her school, and if not, check into starting one. You could also talk to her teacher about who might make a nice friend for her in the class, and then set up a play date for them. From what I've seen, it's easier for kids to be friends AT school if they are already friends OUTSIDE of school, and that it totally something we mommiess can help make happen.

 

In general, volunteers cannot be alone with children without a school employee for safety and liability reasons. Having accommodations for lunch, even if a child had special needs, would be a big deal at the schools my kids have attended. I have a child on the autism spectrum -- lunch is generally a time for mainstreaming.

post #14 of 16

My daughter's class does something called "quiet lunch" - they can talk for the first half of lunch, but are quiet for the second half so that they actually EAT.  I can remember having no talking in the cafeteria when I was a kid - in two different schools. I'm really surprised a school would allow things to be SO loud.

 

My daughter also has three recesses throughout the day and she has told me that she's gone to sit by herself sometimes when it's just "too much." Is that not an option?  Do they have rest time?  At our school, there's a 50 minute rest period for K.

 

Lunch might be chaotic, but there are usually several built in recess and rest times throughout the day.  If your child hasn't complained about it, what has made you decide to ask for a change?

post #15 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by mainemommy1 View Post

Thank you J Piper! I really appreciate your insight and your experiences. I was an elementary teacher prior to having my son so it's a big adjustment to be on the parent side of things as well! The school does something similar to what you are describing with the guidance counselor and like you said, it rotates and is not viewed upon as weird or different at all but rather a special treat. I just think with more volunteers and parents, the school could reach more children, more often.

 

AP TODDLER MAMA: I see your point and understand what you are saying. yes, kids need to adapt to different environments, I do agree! I also have done a lot of research on introverts and extroverts and schools are set up for extroverts to succeed but don't always meet the needs of introverts-plus these children are little-age 5 and in school all day long:some have never been away from home, some went to part time preschool and others came from daycare. Many aspects of the day are such a huge adjustment. My child has not complained about the lunch at all-----I just see the need for some down time rather than constantly having to be socializing. Everyone needs a break but especially introverted kids who have their energy drained by being around big groups of people in situations such as lunch and there really isn't any break at school at all. Thanks for your insight! The thought had crossed my mind. I'm just trying to make school a bit easier and more friendly for not only my own child but other ones as well.

 

One option you could suggest is having lunchtime activities. We have chess for K kids once a week during lunch. It's a smaller group and they eat in the classroom with the chess teacher.

Our K kids eat in their classroom with a supervisor, but that requires a budget and personnel decisions so not an easy fix.

 

Does the teacher not give the kids downtime in class?  Quiet reading time, or nap time? (yes our k kids "nap" for 20 minutes!).

The issue you'll come up against is that lunch time IS a social time. 

 

Bolded part because you want to use your parental energy for driving change in an area that IS important to your son.

 

 

 

 

post #16 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by daisymama12 View Post

Does the teacher not give the kids downtime in class?  Quiet reading time, or nap time? (yes our k kids "nap" for 20 minutes!).

The issue you'll come up against is that lunch time IS a social time. 

 

Bolded part because you want to use your parental energy for driving change in an area that IS important to your son.

---I just see the need for some down time rather than constantly having to be socializing. 

 

thank you for the bolded part daisymama i had missed that. 

 

a child does not have to be socialising all the time. a child can choose to spend recess the way they want to. i see a lot of children doing this. they hang out by themselves at a quieter part of the playground. 

 

the problem with lunch is - after a long focus period the kids have just gotten out. they are free and usually going ballistic. they want to talk, they want to share, they want to be silly. that is why the cafetaria staff has to constantly monitor the sound level in the hall. i have noticed in dd's school btw first recess and lunch is when teachers pack a lot in. our long classes like art happen during this time purposely. 

 

while we didnt have nap time (half day K, but in ps most 4 year olds did not nap and our dc/ps had to create a quiet time for those kids who could not fall asleep, they had to lay down for half hour and then get up for quiet time as the others slept), but since K every grade (till 4) always has some quiet individual activity at least once during the day. some are like choice time and some are when they are working on their own. in fact i have found there is plenty of opportunity for down time. 

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