COLUMBUS – The students came streaming into the school cafeteria by the carload, peeling off winter coats, backpacks, scarves and gloves -- sporting smiles and full of chatter -- all in anticipation of sharing some time and breakfast with their moms Friday morning.

“It’s a great way for the kids to start the day,” said Shell Creek Elementary School Principal Josh Graves, who spent the second annual Muffins with Mom breakfast walking the cafeteria floor greeting the students by their first names and exchanging pleasantries with their moms.

The event, which jammed the cafeteria with more than 300 moms during its first tryout last year, makes the kids feel “special” and provides an ideal opportunity for drawing the mothers into the school building, Graves said.

“The kids love it. It builds community,” said the second-year principal, who admits to stealing the idea for the event from a friend who is also a school administrator.

The breakfast gives mothers a chance to get away from the hubbub of getting the kids off to school in the morning, take some time to slow down and visit with their children, Graves said.

The school provides the now annual breakfast free (muffins, milk and juice) to the Shell Creek families.

“It’s very nice they do this for the families,” said Lisa Perrin, who was sharing muffins and chatting with her two daughters, second-grader Celine, 8, and kindergartner Elyena, 6.

Shell Creek didn’t leave the dads out.

The school held its first Doughnuts with Dad breakfast, which filled the cafeteria to the brim last year.

“We’ll be doing that again in April,” Graves said.