Scrapbook of a School Counselor is hosting a linky party that’s all about lunch groups! Many counselors facilitate lunch bunches/buddies to get to know students, encourage peer connections, and/or to help with social skills. You should join the party too! Here are my answers to the questions:
I call my lunch groups “Lunch Buddies” and I use them as a laid back way to connect with students over a meal. If I’m facilitating more formal groups, I do it at another time because it becomes too complicated during lunch (it’s difficult to play a game or do a craft while eating tacos or spaghetti!).
Like I said, I keep it laid back and fun. During Lunch Buddies, we eat our food, we talk about our day, we answer fun “would you rather” questions (that I have typed up ready to go), we play I-Spy, or we play an animal guessing game. It’s just a quick meeting to connect and get food in our bellies. I don’t plan anything usually, unless there is a specific issue that might need to be discussed to help someone who’s attending the group that day (for instance, how to join a group, using kind words, etc.).
Unfortunately, this year I am unable to do Lunch Buddies for grades 3-5 due to being assigned recess duty everyday during their lunch block (which is another whole post altogether, ugh). However, I organize my Lunch Buddies for grades K-2 by picking one day per week to hold the groups – this year, it’s Tuesdays. Then, I pick three students who each pick one buddy to invite. So in total, there are six students who show up to each group. I invite the same three students two weeks in a row to give them more than one opportunity to be a part of the group and to invite a different buddy the second week if they wish (sometimes, choosing just one friend to invite is really hard, and sometimes there are tears, no joke).
I pick students for the group based on any new faces to our school first, then I choose students who may need the extra attention or social interaction, or students who I am aware might be having a difficult time recently for any number of reasons. By the end of the year, I like to have included all students, but sometimes it doesn’t quite work out that way.
Also, I hold my lunch groups in a teacher’s classroom because my room is too small for six children plus me, plus all our food. So, I stick to three simple rules during Lunch Buddies to help keep the teacher’s room in order: 1) We stay in our seats, 2) We listen to who is talking, and 3) We clean up our messes. That’s it!
Well, I have found that facilitating Lunch Buddy groups has been an integral part of my school counseling program because it gives me access to a lot of students in a smaller setting than the classroom. So although I am not necessarily documenting notes from each lunch group, I am gathering useful information about students while getting to know them better. And, it allows students to feel more comfortable talking with me or coming to my room later if needed.
I will also say that Lunch Buddies is extremely popular in my school! Students come to know that Tuesdays mean I will be walking down the hall to their lunch line with my clipboard and lunchbox in tow, inviting three lucky students who get to grab a friend and eat with their school counselor. Seriously, some of the “please, oh, please pick me” faces I see are absolutely ridiculous, but I love it.
Annnnd done! 🙂