I got this email from a reader:
[We recently moved and my] kids are told there is no talking for the first 15 minutes of lunch. Some people tell me this is “normal” [for the area]. It might be normal but it is not healthy or natural. It there any scientific evidence that would prove to my administrators that talking in moderation aids the digestive process, helps with social skills and teaches natural consequences (if you spend all your time talking and not eating you will be hungry)?
To answer the question, I think that this parent is in a great spot to talk about this issue with the classroom teacher and the principal. Because she is new, she can almost “play dumb” and ask lots of questions about why the school does this, as if it’s a completely foreign concept.
Here are my ideas:
1) Talk to the classroom teacher. Ask about lunch. Find out about the number of opportunities to socialize.
2) Stop by the principal’s office. Introduce yourself, tell the principal what you love about the school, then mention the fact that your child is unhappy that he/she can’t talk with friends at lunch. Mention how vital it is for new kids to get a chance to talk and make friendships. How can a new kid find friends if they can’t talk at lunch? Can the kids talk in their classroom? Or is that silent too?
3) Join or start the PTA and/or the Wellness Committee. Meet other parents and neighbors who help make decisions about the school. Make them aware of this. Honestly, many parents, and even some teachers, may not know about it.
I think about school lunch as an opportunity for enrichment. A chance to eat new foods and meet new friends. I mean, isn’t education is about opening new doors? It shouldn’t stop over the lunch hour.
As far as research, this is all I could find with a simple google search:
Socialization myths: Silent lunch at public schools
Behavior and Learning in School/Silent lunch
What do you think about silent lunch? Can you help me find some research that the reader can present in favor of a change?