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Talking during lunch in Elementary school


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S_Graalum January 4, 2012


We moved to a new state and my girls are upset because they can't talk during lunch? I've never heard of this and it seems crazy to me. I could understand if the kids are wasting food and not eating perhaps or maybe there's clique issues in 3-4th grades (our ES is K-4). We are in an affluent area so while brattiness may be an issue, I can't imagine the behavior during lunch would be any different than during recess. (Also, the teacher lines the kids line up and they must eat next to the person in line. So if your buddy from 1st grade isn't in the same class when your in 2nd grade there's no chance of sitting next to him/her.) I never thought to ask when looking for a school whether the kids could talk during lunch.

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MagnetMom January 5, 2012


It's not an issue at my daughter's school either. I'd definitely go ask to speak to the principal and ask to understand the policy. It might be because of the size of the campus at lunch, or it might be to keep kids safe, but it's not a policy I'd be comfortable with either. Elementary school kids need their social time, and their fun time. And lined up like going to the library isn't going to cut it for either aspect.

I'd see if they are in need of more volunteers to supervise lunch, and if that would loosen the policy, I'd be there every day. I'd also try to talk to other parents and see how they feel about the policy. One parent is often viewed as just a complainer, but when a dozen voice the same concern, schools will take action.

Good luck.

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TeacherParent January 5, 2012


Schools are increasingly complaining about students' behavior at lunch - I'm not sure why exactly but teacher's chatboards often have teachers asking "How do you keep the kids quiet at lunch?"

Cafeterias have poor sound acoustics - even soft sounds in a cafeteria can sound loud. Sound waves literally bounce when they hit hard surfaces - like an echo in a cave. Cafeterias usually have no rugs, no curtains and no sound absorbing acoustic tiles so the sound of the kids' voices essentially is magnified.

And then kids have to almost yell to be heard above the sound of all the other voices and to teachers' ears it begins to sound like chaos.

I think the midday meal in home or school is not just about eating - it's about relaxing for a bit and pleasant socializing. But more and more schools are trying out a 'no talking' lunch because they don't think they can keep the sound down in any other way.

They're wrong about that I think - putting felt on the bottom of cafeteria chair seats cuts down on the sound. That's more easily done that putting up curtains or sound absorbing acoustic tiles.

I could understand a school not wanting students to be always sitting with their friends and trying to have students sit with students they might not know well in an effort to have students get to know each other better. But a 'no talk' lunch makes the midday break that is lunch feel more like work than a break.

I'd ask around of other parents and find out how long this policy has been in place and why they put it in place. Is there an active PTA in the school? There must be other parents that feel like you and maybe together you could get this policy changed.
Good luck.

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suedinaz January 15, 2012


My daughter's school (in AZ) also doesn't allow talking (and they don't allow it on the bus either) and they also do that thing with lining the kids up so they have to sit with whomever they happened to be next to in line. I agree with the others that lunch should be a time to socialize and take a little break. This is a small school,116 students, only 8 classes (K-8). They go to lunch one pod at a time so that is only 3 classes at a time eating which is approx 30 students! Yes, the cafeteria may be a little loud but when you have kids you have noise. Anyone who is a parent can tell you that. The teachers (and staff) at my daughter's school seem to not be able to tolerate the everyday noise that children create. Our school is like a little prison. No talking allowed, no noise allowed. No talking in the hallways, cafeteria, or the bus and they even try to stop the talking on the playground! (that one is a little harder for them to do though) One time my daughter witnessed the bus driver smack a down syndrome child on the bus because that child was making noise - the forbidden activity. He could not handle the kids talking on the bus and would get very angry. I feel that if these people can't handle noise of any kind and are angered by it they should not be in a profession dealing with children where noise is bound to happen. Of course nothing is done about it because talking is not allowed - not even among the parents!

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pamb456 January 15, 2012


I have never heard of no talking during lunch, but that's one way to make sure the kids actually eat! Both of my kids come home with lunch only half eaten because they're so busy socializing.

At our school, your whole class eats together, but you don't have to sit next to the person next to you in line. There is no switching to sit with a friend in another class, though. This way the monitor in charge knows which class is misbehaving, to let the teacher know. They can play with their friends in other classes at recess.

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caroldj January 15, 2012


No talking during lunch is indeed crazy! I am responding from the other side ( a middle school teacher). If the student's came back to me after having to be silent during lunch, it would take 30 minutes to settle them. When are they suppose to learn socialization skills? Surely your child's school spends unnecessary energy on keeping lunch silent.

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cruisin January 15, 2012


Definitely talk to the school to see what is behind the policy. At our school the children are asked not to talk for the first 10minutes. This is primarily driven by the noise level and the difficulty of hearing the children as the lunch is distributed. Once the lunch is passed out conversation at a low level may resume.

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giz2000 January 15, 2012


I am an elementary school teacher, and while my school doesn't necessarily do a silent lunch, the talking is kept to a minimum. Kids tend to get VERY loud in the cafeteria, especially when there are several grades eating together. If kids are socializing, they're usually not eating...which means cranky, hungry kids later on...and that's not conducive to learning!

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catladyx3 January 15, 2012


I am a lunch lady in my son's elementary school (K-3). The noise is unbelievable. I turn the lights out when it gets excessive, but as soon as the lights go back on, the noise level shoots right back up to where it was. I don't think "no talking" is the solution, but we are trying to figure out a system that makes lunch an enjoyable time. It is almost the same kids every day who get the whole table "in trouble". Some kids cannot sit for 30 minutes without doing something they should not do. Governor Scott took recess away, which was the last 10 minutes of lunch. I think we need to find a way to get it back so these kids can have some time to run off their energy and play with their peers.

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kbragg1975 January 15, 2012


I do agree that this is a bit crazy but our school in SC has quiet time for ten minutes then they can whisper. It works pretty well because they focus on eating or the first ten minutes.

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mrsroby January 16, 2012


That was one of the reasons I moved to another state for my 10-yr old son's education. It's ridiculous that kids can't talk at lunch. What is the school system trying to create.

My son's old school was in Decatur, GA, Browns Mill Elementary School, around the corner from an affluent neighborhood. There were signs in the hallways "zero tolerance for talking". That was crazy! In the cafeteria, teachers monitor the students. The first day we were there for enrollment, we heard a teacher telling the kids in the lunchroom to keep it quiet.

As for me, I would like to think I am training a leader who has the right to speak and talk. We stayed there for about 6 weeks when I was called for an out-of-state job to Washington DC. I didn't hesitate to move to Fairfax County VA. Schools rock here!



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