Every morning, you dutifully pack your child’s backpack with his books, folders, and a snack. And depending on the day, that mid-morning nibble might range from very nutritious (think apple slices or yogurt) to barely passable (like tortilla chips). (Because when you’re cobbling together a snack every day, you’re bound to run out of the healthy stuff and hope that what you send in doesn’t get you a note sent home.) But did you ever consider how your kid's teacher might rate your lunchbox filler? Here’s what teachers want parents to know about snacks — straight from the school source.
Teachers are really on the front lines when it comes to the food your child eats in school. They’re the ones who have to care for the student who has an allergy when a parent accidentally sends in peanut butter crackers. They’re responsible for cleaning up the massive mess after snack time. And they also have to restore order to the classroom when one kid brings in a "cool" snack that all the other kids are clamoring for.
So really, cut your child’s instructor some slack and heed their advice about what snacks will send your child straight to the head of the class — and which ones will make your next parent/teacher conference a complete nightmare. (And don't forget about that after-school snack, either.)
1. Snacks Should Be Allergen-Free
Many schools across the U.S. are nut-free, and yours might be, too. So it’s always a good idea to check out the ingredient list on your child’s snack to ensure that it doesn’t contain any allergens. “It never ceases to amaze me how many parents will still send in a snack that has nuts in it when we’ve told them that our classroom is nut-free,” Diane D., a teacher in Boston, MA, tells Romper. “If you’re unsure of what allergens are in the classroom, just email us, and we can give you suggestions.”
2. Snacks That Have Fruits Are Fine
For the most part, fruits get the gold star when it comes to snack time. “Fruit is a good option because it’s not usually messy, and doesn’t give the kids a crazy sugar high,” Evelyn, a preschool teacher in New York City, tells Romper. “All we ask is that if your kid loves oranges to please send them in already peeled.” Just don’t send in a peeled banana, because that’s disastrous.
3. Snacks Should Be Easy To Open
Snacks shouldn’t be overly complicated to open. “I spend most of snack time opening containers and bags for my students,” Susan, an elementary school teacher in Boise, ID, tells Romper. “Although that can go quickly, you want to make sure that you don’t send your child in with a snack that’s too hard to open — even for the teachers.”
4. Snacks Shouldn’t Make A Mess
Kids are inherently messy eaters, so don’t make the process harder by sending them in with food that’s going to go everywhere. “I cringe every time I see a squeeze yogurt,” Judith, an elementary school teacher in Brooklyn, NY, tells Romper. “The little ones sometimes don’t have the mastery it takes to make sure that it doesn’t erupt all over their clothing.” And ditto for juice boxes, which can become a full-on fountain if your child presses too hard.
5. Snack Isn’t Breakfast
In theory, snack time should be an intermediate meal between breakfast and lunch. But if you have a super slow a.m. eater, you know it’s not always easy to get that morning muffin into your child. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen breakfast sandwiches with two bites taken out of them sent in as a snack,” Amanda, a preschool teacher in Fairfield, CT, tells Romper. “It can make things tricky, especially for other kids who suddenly want to eat breakfast, too, or for kids who might have allergies.”
6. Snacks Shouldn’t Be Sweet
Sure, you might get a few extra kisses from your kiddo if you sneak a powdered donut into his snack sack, but you’re going to get glares from the teacher the next time you see her. “Parents, please, please, please don’t send in sugary treats for snack time,” Lexi, a preschool teacher in Wayne, NJ, tells Romper. “Not only can it cause a feeding frenzy among the students, but your kid will crash big time in about an hour.”
7. Snacks Shouldn't Smear
Slimy, goopy, and messy aren’t going to cut it when it comes to snacks. “Some students will bring in a granola bar that’s coated in chocolate, which is okay,” Amy, an elementary school teacher in Paramus, NJ, tells Romper. It becomes a problem when "they have chocolate all over their hands which they then smear on the desk… or themselves.” So skip the smear-inducing foods, and look for things that won’t make a mess.
8. Snacks Should Be Edible
“There’s a reason we have snack time,” Barbara, an elementary school teacher in Port St. Lucie, FL, tells Romper. “It’s to fuel their little bodies and minds to give them the stamina they need to learn.” So even though you want to impress your teacher with your sliced Brussels sprout, if your child isn’t going to eat it, then there’s no point in sending it in. Ask your kiddo what he wants to eat at snack time (within reason) and pack that instead.
9. Snacks Shouldn't Require Utensils
Some moms take snack time seriously, and create culinary masterpieces for a mini meal that is only supposed to last a few minutes. “I applaud the efforts of parents to make sure that their child is eating something nutritious,” Rita, an elementary school teacher in Atlanta, GA, tells Romper. “But there is no time for forks and knives during snack time.” Apart from the occasional spoon or even spork, keep the cutlery at home and give your teacher a break.
10. Snacks Should Include Reusable Water Bottles
Your child is going to need to hydrate, and by far, water is the official drink for snack time. So be sure to invest in a reusable water bottle — or else. “It makes me crazy when I see kids coming to school every day with disposable water bottles,” Stefanie, a preschool teacher in San Francisco, CA, tells Romper. “Even though we try to recycle, it’s not always possible, so I would love parents to send their kids in with a reusable water bottle — and help save the planet!”