Hunger in School

It is funny what you remember.

I was in a reception classroom this week just as it was heading to lunchtime. The children all lined up at the door, and waited… and with the hubbub of their chatter, and the change in energy in the room as they became more and more hungry and wondering where their dinner lady was….I remembered.

I remembered times like that when I was a teacher, and I would help my class get through those painful minutes by distracting them with class games, Simon Says…, and jokes.

Beyond that though, I remembered my own feelings of waiting for lunch at school.

If you were hungry at home you could say so, maybe have something to keep you going and/or go do something to distract yourself. At school when you are just waiting neither of those are options.

I remembered how the biggest change for me going from primary to secondary, was not the size of school, or the moving around to different rooms for different lessons, or the amount of homework…. It was having to wait until 12.50 for the bell to go for lunch, when for the last 3 years it had been at 12.00! Those 50 mins were THE HARDEST MINUTES OF THE DAY.

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I was quiet at school, not one of the children who were constantly being noticed, but just because nobody else noticed my hunger I DID!  I was so desperate to get food into me by 12.50, that I would go straight outside with my packed lunch and sit on the benches and EAT. Most of my class (and the rest of the school in all honesty) would go to the dining hall, queue up for a seat and eat in there. Not me.

 

E v e r y   s i n g l e   day of my first year, come rain, or shine I was out there….even in the snow. I’m serious. Nothing was going to stop me getting food in my body ASAP.

What I now know about bodies and fuel, brain function, hormones and blood sugar levels helps me understand this memory picture. I didn’t care that what I was doing was different to everyone else or a bit off-the-wall. All I cared about was re-fueling.

I recognised that same need to re-fuel in that classroom as those children waited. Some just stood and fiddled with lunch boxes, some got quiet and withdrew into themselves, some fidgety and less able to stand still, some could no longer find their ‘indoor voices’ and needed to raise the subconscious alarm with their ‘other’ voices.

keep-calm-its-lunch-time-4I wondered how long before their designated lunch time those tummies had been quietly rumbling; how long had they been distracted from their 5-year-old jobs; how long had they found it harder to ‘play nicely with kind hands’, because they were becoming driven by a different internal biochemical landscape?

 

It’s funny what you remember.

Food is so important, affecting attention, behaviour and social skills.

How we fuel our children has immediate impact…and potentially long lasting memories!