An Independent, Gracious, Courteous and Delicious Lunch Routine

As September winds to a close, the children are well on their way to settling into each classroom’s daily routines. A big part of this daily routine is lunch. All our meals throughout the day are provided by our fantastic caterer (Real Food for Real Kids – Please refer to www.rfrk.com for daily menus).

Although each classroom’s routine may vary in small details, the overall themes of independence and table manners are found in each environment.

Independence During Lunch

In our Montessori environments, we always strive to allow children opportunities; we want to “help me help myself.” Many children enjoy assisting in setting up the classroom for lunch.

The video below from the Montessori Guide: Hazel Sets the Table, wonderfully demonstrates this.

This includes individual table settings complete with placemats, cutlery, a napkin, a plate and/or bowl, and a cup. The food is then presented to the children in a “family style” manner.

Photographed below are the “chickpea crusted chicken meteorites” served in one of our Casa classrooms.

Casa children bring their empty plates with them to the designated food table and serve themselves – with some guidance – a variety of delicious dishes. Older children may also choose to serve milk or water to themselves and their peers.

Photographed below are the “volcano sandwiches” served in one of our Toddler classrooms.

Toddler children sit in small groups with a teacher as food is placed at the centre of their tables.

During lunch, teachers re-enforce a child’s proper use of cutlery and encourage children to feed themselves appropriately to the best of their abilities.

At the end of their meals, children scrape any food scraps into the compost and place all their used plates, bowls, cutlery, and cups in the appropriate containers. Children then sweep any crumbs or fallen food using child-sized brooms and dustpans, sponge up any spills, clean their place mats and return those to their appropriate spots, as well.

Grace and Courtesy

Grace and Courtesy is a pervasive aspect of the Montessori curriculum. Please refer to our previous blog post regarding Grace and Courtesy here: https://odysseymontessori.com/?p=776

Lunch time grace and courtesy includes many common table manners and expectations. Below are a few of those promoted by the classroom teachers:

  • Chewing with mouths closed
  • Avoiding talking while chewing
  • Sitting while eating
  • The proper use of cutlery
  • Respecting another person’s space
  • Waiting his or her turn in line before serving him or herself
  • Waiting to ensure that everyone at the table has food before eating
  • Offering help to others – e.g. Would you like some milk or water?
  • Please and thank you


Meal times are times of transition, socialization, and adaptation. The lunch routine at school aims to help build foundational skills for years to come. Intentional routines during this necessary part of every day life encourages positive interactions with others and healthy attitudes toward food.


Marie Hui is the Vice Principal of Odyssey Montessori School. She began her tenure with Odyssey as the student teacher in Casa 1. Marie then went on to lead Casa 2 as the Directress for several years. With a love of children and a passion for Montessori, Marie strives to connect parents to the Montessori philosophy - hoping to bridge some gaps between home and school.

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