Many schools have assigned seating to help students make friends and ensure that everyone has someone to talk to at lunchtime. School officials say that’s especially important for kids who are new to their school.
Plus, many students choose to eat with the same friends each day. Supporters of assigned seating say it encourages kids to branch out and get to know others.
“It’s good to step out of your comfort zone,” says Suzanne Rice. She’s a former education professor who has studied lunchtime at schools.
Some school officials say assigned seating can also prevent bullying by breaking up cliques that exclude other kids. Another goal is to keep the cafeteria calm and organized. When kids don’t have to scramble to find a seat, they have more time to enjoy their meals.
Rice points out that assigned seating doesn’t have to be boring. For example, she says, schools could switch up assignments every few weeks.