So you're child is attending preschool and you'd like to volunteer to serve breakfast one day but the thought of serving 20 plus children can be a daunting task. Don't worry; here are a few key things to keep in mind that will get you through those mornings.

Stay organized! Pool your resources together to gather the children together and prepare for the following tasks: One by one, send the toddlers in a single-filed line to wash their hands. Have the first two or more children set the tables for everyone. Have the next pair of kids help with the remaining kids at the sink (e.g., squirting soap into palms and another passing out paper towels). Have another adult help with bringing the food to the table.

Chow down! With all children at the table, a song is usually sung to identify the beginning of the meal such as "Healthy, Healthy, Healthy Me." Immediately thereafter, have all the adults serve the children. Take care in serving the children as there may be those with food allergies to such commons foods as dairy or may have religious restrictions such as beef or pork. In certain cases, depending on the curriculum, you may allow the children to serve themselves certain items (e.g., pour milk into their own cup or open their cereal) to help develop their motor skills.

Clean up, clean up! While it would be ideal for all the children to eat something, you will have those who just won't eat anything - be sure to let their parents know after school so that they can make sure those kids eat when they get home. The teacher should be ready to receive the children who have finished eating. One-by-one, have children tell you that they are ready to be excused from the table. Have them pour any unfinished liquids into the sink and throw away their trash. Send the children to the teacher for their next activity and clean the tables and chairs with the appropriate cleaning supplies. Be sure to sweep when done and put away any unopened food in the refrigerator - the rest of the food must be disposed. All other materials are washed and placed in their proper places (e.g., utensils, containers, etc.).

In summary, while it may take some time to get used to, you will be well on your way to becoming a real value to the classroom. I'm confident that not only will the teacher be thankful but the time you spend with your child will be priceless. I wish you many more enjoyable mornings!