For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and
you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.
– Matthew 25:35 ESV
The school year is well under way now. As teachers, we are getting to know our students more each day. This includes the challenges many students face academically and at home. Teachers are able to provide many interventions for academic and behavior issues. There are many factors outside of our control as well. Many students that we work with each day come from homes that qualify for free and reduced lunch. This often means that families are struggling to afford the basic needs for their family. Although these struggles are outside of our control, we do have an ability to be proactive to see the needs of these students in our building. Below are a few tips to help struggling students this fall.
Bring Food into the Classroom
Have breakfast food in your room. Take a survey of what your students eat for breakfast. If basic needs like food are not met, then students might exhibit behaviors throughout the day. In my desk, I always have various breakfast snacks such as cereal bars, granola bars, etc., for students who may need a little something extra.
There might be students who depend on you daily for that breakfast snack. Students will often qualify for free/reduced lunch and breakfast at school. If the student often comes late to school and misses a meal, so you may be able to arrange to have the breakfast to be eaten inside the classroom during the first half hour of the day. Places like Sam’s Club, Costco, etc., sell these items in bulk so you can stock up. There might also be some grant money you can use for this purpose. The food bank also may donate food if they know you are giving it to qualifying students. This is another way to build healthy kids, and they will have a better rapport because they know you are looking out for them.
Let Students Borrow Costumes
Buy two to three extra Halloween costumes as you will find that
a student will forget or cannot afford one. In elementary school students enjoy wearing their Halloween costumes to school for their holiday party at the end of the day. Some students do not even come to school that day because they know they will not have a costume and do not want to feel embarrassed because they will be the only one left out. I remember the day before Halloween a boy said he was not going to come the next day because he did not have a costume. I told him I would take care of it and the next day he was a ninja! He was grateful and pleased to just be a kid was having fun instead of worrying about his situation.
If you can, about a few weeks before Halloween, start asking around to friends and families that may have old Halloween costumes that would fit students in your class. You will want to have a couple of various sizes for boys and girls. I let the students borrow them, but I also tell them that I will need them back for others to use in the future. I allowed them to keep them to use for trick or treating though. They usually bring me back some candy! Once Halloween is over, keep an eye out for costumes at a significant discount as stores are looking to stock their shelves for Thanksgiving. You will be a lifesaver for a child who needs a costume.
Be The Change You Want To See in The World
As the year moves along, continue to look for ways to link up your families in need with outside services. You may want to get in contact with your school social worker as they may be able to provide some local services for your families. If we all were able to reach out to a family or two this school year, what an impact we could make for families all across the country!