We have a Breakfast Club at our school which is open each morning from 7:30-8:25, when the morning school bell rings. In all honesty, it actually usually runs past this time because kids are not often turned away when they come in late and we know they’ve not had breakfast.
Last week, we had the Breakfast Clubs of Canada bring in a group of individuals who wanted to learn more about our Breakfast Club and how it impacts students and student learning. There are the usual answers, of course (you can find some of those answers here and here). Yes, the students are more able to sit and concentrate when they have food in their bellies. Yes, they are more likely to be more cooperative (and less cranky) when they are not hungry. Yes, they are more able to think more clearly. Yes, they are more likely to have fewer behavioural challenges. All of these things lead to better student achievement and more overall learning. But, Breakfast Club is so much more than about the food and the benefits of eating breakfast. It is more than filling those bellies which makes our Breakfast Club (and others) an essential component to these kids days (and future, I would like to suggest).
Our Breakfast Club fills our student’s hearts and souls and allows them the opportunity to start the day in a positive way. If you are a parent, you will understand how tricky it is, and sometimes quite stressful, to get everyone ready and out the door for school. As a mom of three kids, I am fortunate that my husband does this each day – with a smile on his face and without any stress, yelling, or frustration. OK, maybe he doesn’t have a smile on his face – he doesn’t smile as much as I do, but it is a calm morning as he gets our kids ready to go each morning. (I actually witnessed this for a couple of days this winter when I was stuck at home in bed with bronchitis. I was in awe.)
Unfortunately, the calmness of our household in the morning is not the norm. Usually, people are hurried, trying to get kids out of their nice warm bed, trying to find socks (not be mentioned “matching” socks), trying to eat breakfast, trying to make lunches, ensuring planners are in backpacks (signed), finishing unfinished homework, and the list could go on. And on. And on. Morning time is a very stressful time for many families. Very stressful.
Many kids come to school with a sad face, tired eyes, and grumpy demeanor. These are not just our Breakfast Club kids, but all kids.
It is different for the kids who come to Breakfast Club each morning though. They are greeted by smiling faces by our Breakfast Club Food Services Worker (Marlene), our Community Schools Facilitator (Alisha) and, more importantly, their friends. The time before school allows them precious time to connect with people in a positive way. They eat breakfast together, share books together, and play games together. They are making positive connections with staff and peers.
They are welcomed, and they feel it.
They are accepted, and they feel it.
They are honoured, and they feel it.
They are believed in, and they feel it.
They are liked, and they feel it.
They are cared for, unconditionally, and they know it.
Our Breakfast Club more than breakfast. It is more than filling those bellies. It is about these students making connections that will make them resilient. It is about the relationships with one another that will make them stronger and more willing to accept others. It is about these students knowing they are cared for unconditionally. It is about their future. It is about them knowing that others believe in them in a way they may not have ever known. It is about our students learning to believe in themselves in this same way. It is this knowledge that will have lasting effect on them for the rest of their lives.
It’s so much more than just breakfast.
We would like to thank all those who make the Breakfast Club at our school a reality! It really is making a huge difference to the lives of our students – now and in the future.