The importance of supporting independence at mealtimes At Toddlers Inn, meal times are a social occasion full of learning opportunities where children are given the time and support to become confident and independent. The social aspect of our group meal times is hugely important, creating opportunities for interaction.
Offering food and drink to the children gives plenty of opportunity for children to use their manners, taking part in conversations and express their thoughts and feelings. Children are able to use mealtimes to learn what is socially acceptable such as sharing food, saying thank you and waiting for others before starting to eat. This supports them in making solid relationships through life.
Our home cooked meals, lovingly prepared by Dawn (more affectionately known as Nanna) are provided in a social environment where children can take the time to help set the table and talk to each other. We provide smaller utensils and dishes so the children have the opportunity to build on their physical development, strengthening their fine and gross motor skills. Children will require these skills to help with pencil control and handwriting. We provide child sized jugs so they can serve themselves water, which supports children in gaining independence and control over their larger movements.
There is a constant flow of conversation, developing language skills, our caring team provide and build vocabulary, encouraging the children to use their language to make requests or comments. Many children will learn a great deal of their first words through mealtimes. Single words such as “yes”, “no” and “more” are a selection of the first words that children tend to learn and use. Mealtimes provide a foundation for adults and children to talk about the world around them. The food offered at mealtimes can support children in thinking about the world, where different foods come from and how they look, feel, smell and taste.
Mealtimes enable children to see similarities and differences between themselves and their friends, through food preferences. A range of foods from different cultures will also expand the children’s learning about others and different communities. All of our meals are cooked onsite, with the children regularly involved in choosing recipes and preparing ingredients and cooking for themselves too, whether that be within our enhanced baking activities, seasonal favourites or cooking on the campfire. Every meal time is a social time!