Preschoolers can serve their own lunch!

by Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. on July 31, 2010

in Professional Development, Quick Tips for Preschool Teachers

Today, I observed these preschoolers serving their own lunch. Let me begin by saying that the room was not quiet and there were a few dropped cups along the way (luckily all empty).

Looking around, I saw children serving themselves in a orderly, considerate, and talkative manner. It was quite fun to be there with them….. It has take commitment and time from the teachers to help these preschoolers successfully learn this process and I observed amazing results today.

The preschoolers washed their hands then came over to the table. At one end of the lunch table they found cups, plates, and silverware ready for them to collect.

Each child picked up his or her own plate, cup, and napkin.  I noticed that the children have learned (or have been taught) to place their cup and wrapped silverware in the center of their plate so they can walk to where they will be sitting. Talk about working on balance!

After gathering their dishes, they picked a place to sit at the table. These children have been practicing their table setting skills everyday!

Then the children began to serve their own food. Today they used a large spoon to scoop out some yummy potatoes. I was getting hungry watching the action – everything smelled so good.

Another spoon was in the green beans for scooping. Practicing that eye-hand coordination!

The children passed the baskets or bowls around the table until everyone was served.

Tongs were used to serve the ham, apples, and muffins. Talk about developing those fine motor skills!

Each child poured their own cup of milk too!

The milk was passed around the table so everyone could serve up a cup  of milk and occasionally, some assistance was needed. The teachers stayed with their students and helped out where needed but the emphasis was always on helping children serve themselves.

Then the teachers served their own plates and sat down at the table with the children to eat too. This gave the teachers the chance to model good table manners, considerate conversation, and proper eating habits…

And just to show you that these preschoolers are typical…


Did you know if you fold your ham over and take a bite, it makes circles you can see through?

A great place to start teaching children how to serve themselves is during snack time.

I know that there are many preschools or programs that do not allow children to serve themselves due to various concerns, but I wanted to show you how much children can learn and do when given the opportunity.

This article is being shared with you by Deborah Stewart of Teach Preschool - Sharing the wonders of early learning in action!

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