The Elementary School Years Now vs. Then

The Elementary School Years Now vs. Then

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Trends go in and out of style, even in elementary school. That’s easy enough to accept. But the elementary experience when we were in school is nothing compared to what it’s like in 2017. Can we take a minute to reflect on how elementary school today isn’t just different, it’s a full-on LUXURY UPGRADE.

Consider:

1. Food Fanciness

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When you look back on unpacking at the lunch table, do you recall your food cut into imaginative shapes that required tools available only in commercial kitchens? If so, you were way ahead of the rest of us with our smushed up sandwiches tossed in a baggie. These days it’s not unusual to see kids with their food cut into museum-worthy sculpture. It’s not only their palates that are more sophisticated; their “eye” for food is more refined, too.

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Kids growing up in today’s era of cooking shows and rockstar chefs have developed a much more sophisticated palate, too. Bologna on white bread with mayo isn’t gonna cut it for kids who’ve been discussing flavor profiles and eating peppers dipped in spicy hummus their whole lives.

2. The Evolution of the Lunchbox

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The very first commercial lunchboxes for kids were introduced in 1902. These metal containers, painted to look like picnic baskets, were just a small improvement on the tin pails kids had been using to tote lunches to school. Not long after the advent of TV, lunchboxes became a vehicle for personal expression, featuring cartoon characters. From there it was a small step to brightly-colored plastic lunch boxes festooned with our favorite pop culture icons. Innovations in design led to today’s on trend cooler bags and bento boxes.

3. No More Scary Metal Slides

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Remember skidding down that safe and not-at-all-scary metal slide? In addition to equipment of questionable safety standards, we suffered through “human target sports” like Dodgeball, Red Rover, and Mother May I at recess. But at least we had recess. After a regrettable period when many school systems took away outdoor playtime, in most places it’s back. Playgrounds today have equipment – or “playscapes” – designed and engineered to provide kids with tools for safe and spirited free play. Improving safety is always an upgrade!

4. What Exactly Do Our Kids Carry In Their Backpacks Anyway?

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Back in Ye Olde Schooldayes, we lugged books and lunches around in backpacks so heavy that sometimes we stooped forward. Today kids have tablets and laptops that replace textbooks, to-do lists, novels, dictionaries, calendars, and even calculators. With so much homework completed online, backpacks are pretty much just fashion statements.

5. Hot Trades at the Lunch Table

As long as kids have been bringing lunches to school, they’ve been trading food like it’s the NASDAQ. Those of us (ahem) who didn’t have the good stuff in our lunches would make all sorts of ridiculous trades to get a cupcake or a pudding cup. Kids today are still making deals on high value lunchbox items. Caution: if your child suddenly doesn’t have homework, check to see if someone’s doing it for them in exchange for Go-GURT EZ Open Tubes.

6. The Fads

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These days fidget spinners are all the rage. But every era has that one “must have” craze. Whether it’s milk caps, virtual pets, trading cards, or any of the various bracelet genres – slap, friendship, jelly, loom – it seems there will always be a hot trend that every kid neeeeeeds to have. And as soon as they’ve all got one, something new will inevitably come along to take its place.

While some things are different, elementary school today has the same basic elements it’s had since kids first started going to school. There are still playgrounds and backpacks; cool containers and hot trades.
Some things never change.

 

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