The aim is to provide a time to focus on eating in a calm, settled way and then transition successfully into learning programmes.
A number of schools across NZ have embraced this concept following research from Dr Kathleen Liberty, an Associate Professor at the University of Canterbury.
To help children to focus on their learning, the practice reverses times for morning tea, lunch and play so that children play first, then return to their learning studios to eat and become more calm, ready to learn.
Research shows the body physiologically responds differently to the two activities – Playing and Eating:
Play – the body response is more aroused and heightened.
Eat – the body response is to naturally calm down.
International studies have shown that changing the order to play first and then eat improves a child’s ability to pay attention in class. With the 'Play' first and then 'Eat' model, children eat more, drink more and have a greater readiness to learn. They are less inclined to rush their food down so they can go out to play. By having the learning time immediately following eating, they are more attentive, calm and ready to learn.
Children may also be able to have a healthy snack during the first block (between 8:30 – 10:15am) as it can be a long time since a child’s breakfast time. There will be “Brain Breaks” in each learning block.
Because your child will be having more frequent eating times during the day, please consider this when packing their lunchbox with them. Smaller portions and a few more healthy snacks may be helpful. We will provide more suggestions on “healthy” lunch food shortly.
Water throughout the day is also a key aspect of improving a child’s ability to focus and concentrate. This could be thought of as “Drink-to-Think; Think-to-Drink”. Dehydration can contribute to poor concentration, memory problems and an increase in impulsive behaviour. Please make sure your child has a drink bottle and remember – we only allow water at school.
For up-to-date information on recommended food choices and tips for preparing healthy and inviting lunches, please click here to visit the 5+ A day website:
We encourage whanau to reduce waste by using lunchboxes with compartments and avoiding pre-packaged food. Use paper wrapping or beeswax wraps instead of plastic. At this stage we are a “take in – take out” school, so children will take home their uneaten food and any packaging.