End Silent Lunches at Elementary School

girl clasping hands over mouth

Target: Principal Rose Flowers, Lilac Elementary School, Valley Center, CA

Goal: Revoke a new rule that does not allow students to speak during their lunch period

The administration at Lilac School in Valley Center, California imposed a new rule on its students stating that they are not allowed to speak to one another while they are on their lunch break. The rule relegates children who try to speak to their classmates to a ‘bad kid’s table’ and cuts their lunchtime in half. School administrators claim that they were worried that children were not eating enough because they were talking too much.

This policy is as ridiculous as it is ineffective in solving the problem at hand. Children have always talked during social times such as lunch, so it is illogical to assume that malnutrition is at the root of this issue. Many other factors could affect why children are not eating enough at lunch, but the administration is taking the easy way out by imposing this quick-fix solution. There are other methods that would ensure the students eat more without forcing them to remain silent during one of the only free and relaxing periods they have during the school day.

This policy does not guarantee that the children will eat more because they cannot talk, but it does negatively affect them overall. At the ages of 8 to 11,  socializing with peers is a very important aspect of children’s cognitive, social, personal, and linguistic growth. The students are already expected to remain silent throughout the day during classes, and it is detrimental to their development to deprive them of one of their few opportunities to speak. This policy will also force bored students to distract themselves with iPhones, iPads, and other technology, which already negatively affect their development outside of school, instead of having human interactions.

The Lilac School administration did not seek the opinions of parents before implementing this policy, and did not inform them of it even after. Tell the administration and principal of Lilac School that these children deserve to flourish in a socially and emotionally, as well as academically, stimulating school environment.


Dear Principal Flowers,

Your new policy forcing the 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students to be silent during lunch is not only ridiculous, but also detrimental to the children’s social and emotional development. While you have decided that the children are not eating enough because they are talking too much, this is not necessarily the case. Instead of closely observing the situation and finding a better solution to the problem, you decided upon an easy fix. You also did not even inform the parents of your students that this new policy was going to be implemented.

Not only does this policy not guarantee that the students will eat more, it also negatively affects them overall. At this point in these children’s lives, socializing is a very important aspect of their cognitive, social, personal, and linguistic growth. The students are already forced to remain silent throughout the day during class and depriving them of one of the few opportunities they do have to communicate with their peers is detrimental. This policy will encourage students to interact with  iPhones, iPads, and other technology rather than other humans, which has already caused concern among developmental psychologists and educators. I urge you to retract this policy and instead find a solution that is beneficial to your students.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Healthkicker via Creative Commons

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One Comment

  1. Brrr. Exhale. I’m relieved to see that I’m not alone in my stance that “Silent Lunch” is…Well…I can’t think of a nice adjective…It suffices to say that I’ve witnessed on more than one occasion the crude, overbearing, anti-social, abnormal-for-young-children atmosphere of “Silent Lunch” cafeterias. And the first time my ex-husband, who is a retired military officer, experienced it, his comment was: it’s military-like; even worse! Socialization and control are best learned via experience; not denial and exclusion. Frankly, I think the “Silent Lunch” concept serves the staff/adults more than the students/children; totally for the benefit of the adults. (& thank goodness parents can still recognize poppycock when they hear it: that whole for the safety of the children, yeah, right!). I’ve enjoyed lunch w/my young student and classmates in what I considered a perfectly normal setting/noise level, yet witnessed the staff “screaming” and snapping at the children about the noise level. I felt the teacher’s aka cafeteria monitor’s response really set a poor example and was over the top; esp., as the only person in the cafeteria “screaming” was the adult/monitor!

    Additionally, I think “Silent Lunch” is a challenging concept to embrace as we are socialized (outside of the current school system) to eat and fellowship (from home settings to public outings to church settings). Food and Fellowship go hand-in-hand in many cultures, worldwide (I know, I’ve traveled four continents). So, let’s not be surprised when our children clam up during what used to be a prime opportunity for them to open up and share about their day–the dinner hour. Or when their anxiety and frustration levels rise as a result of one more unrealistic expectation pressed upon them. And to answer the question of when can children be children? When adults are being adults, thus placing the welfare of children ahead of their own! Until then…Well…Stay alert and be prepared to advocate on behalf of your child(ren).

    Mother of a 6th Grader
    Charlotte, NC

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