How to Teach Independence for School Lunch Time with a Practice Picnic

Updated: Aug 23, 2021

Whether eating lunch at school is new to your little one or a familiar activity, increasing their independence in self-care will boost confidence and promote a smooth school lunch routine.

Use a “practice picnic” as an opportunity to exercise the skills needed to open and manipulate the zippers and lids that come along with school lunch time.

Take the following steps for school lunch success:

1. Find containers and lunch boxes with latches and zippers you think your child may be successful in manipulating. You might put some tupperware out to include in their play with small manipulatives to get an idea of what they are able to open and close.

2. With your child, pack a lunch in the containers you believe will work best. Offer two healthy choices as they pack their lunch (“would you like cucumbers or carrots with your sandwich?”) and allow them to put food in and close containers.

3. Head out to your favorite picnic spot to enjoy lunch together. Give your child a chance to independently manipulate their lunchbox and containers as they eat. Take note of any containers that may need practice or teaching on how to use.

4. As you enjoy lunch together, chat about school. You can connect by sharing a favorite school memory or asking them open-ended questions like “What excites you most about going to school?”

5. Keep up the practice by offering food in the same containers at other meal times or include it in their play by putting small toys in the containers or setting up picnics for teddy bears and dolls.

Keep this exercise fun and pressure free so that they can roll into school lunch time with confidence.

For more ideas watch this short video:

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