HOW DO YOU HANDLE THE LUNCH RUSH?
Here is an example of what I did to accomplish this in a program I ran a few years back. We finished our morning program with circle time. While the children were still participating in circle, one of our staff members (we had 3 in the room) would take out the lunches, open them (heat any that needed to be microwaved) and placed them on the table for the children. The children were placed in the same assigned seats everyday. (After a while, you get to know who talks a lot and you can judge who should sit where). When the children were done circle time, we went to the washroom; they used the toilet and washed their hands. We went back to the classroom and they sat at their places with a teacher seated at the table with them. As they ate, another staff member put out their sleep mats and books on the carpeted area of the classroom.
The children finished their lunches at different times (as is expected) so as they finished, they were instructed to go and sit on their mat and read a book while the others finished. When everyone was done, the children were told it was naptime. The lights were then dimmed and quiet music was played in the background. This scenario could be changed. There were days when I was the only teacher in the room at lunchtime. The key was planning ahead, being organized; planning for smooth transitions and sticking to the routine once it is established. Children adapt quite quickly to and are most comfortable with routine.
Thank you, Tina Marie for sharing your ideas.