Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Fear of Entering the World of Snacktime

This is a great post about a practice that has seems to have gotten out of control:

At one of our preschool visits, a moderate, fairly normal place, we were told that the parents had to take turns bringing in a healthy snack. OK, I thought to myself, imagining sending in a bag of baby carrots or fresh fruit. That didn’t sound like a big deal.

Then I walked by the classroom where the snack of the day was written on the dry-erase board outside the door. Because, you know, a parent should never leave their child at preschool without being assured of a quality mid-morning snack. The snack was something like a five-course menu – corn muffins, yogurt, juice boxes and I’m forgetting another 1-2 courses.

Sure, that’s a nice treat. I’m sure River would be thrilled. And I’m sure he’d pack it all down. But that’s quite an expense to provide that much food for 10 kids. An expense not listed in the tuition. And more importantly – it’s not necessary! Corn muffins and water would be perfectly sufficient until lunchtime. The next day, yogurt and water would be fine, at least according to my simple standards.

I try to think back to my childhood and the only time I remember rotating snack was on Wednesday night Catholic education classes. No one ever brought more than one course. Nor did we really need a post-dinner snack. However, the thought of a treat made evening religious education slightly more bearable.

I don’t remember people bringing in elaborate homemade things. Though plenty brought sweets. I was always the lame snack bringer. My dad used to buy pretzels in massive quantities at Fleet Farm or Menards and I’d always be sent to snack time with a big tin of pretzels. That’s it. Personally, I couldn’t even stomach a single pretzel since our house was overflowing with them.

I felt bad not being able to bring cooler snacks. And that’s where it enters the rat race, where people are judged and children are made to feel good or bad based on the type of snack they provide.

For what it’s worth, my suggestion would be:
1. Determine whether or not a snack is really necessary. Lots of kids have weight problems. Those who need the extra sustenance can always carry something with them.

2. If it is necessary, include the cost of a snack in tuition and have the school/activity/program provide it. That’s how they do it at the low-cost daycare we are considering for next year. It’s usually not gourmet and may be processed (it was goldfish on the day we visited). But the children can take it or leave it. And in the meantime, the kids don’t end up feeling shame or pride about something that is really quite inane.

In the meantime, for me, signs of people focusing on things like outdoing each other in snacks is a sign that I should look for another preschool.

Have you been caught up in the snack wars? How do you handle it?

No comments: