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Posted by Katie oGrady
Learning through play – The Boys & Girls Nursery way: Meal times
Research shows that the most effective way for children to learn is through play. Play underpins the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). Each area of learning and development must be implemented through planned, purposeful play and through a mix of adult-led and child-initiated activity.
At Boys & Girls Nursery we understand that for children to learn through play they need to feel safe, secure and confident. We provide a fun and stimulating environment which offers a wide range of opportunities to inspire young children in our care. Our continuous development allows children to grow in all areas of the EYFS ensuring they are school ready.
Here are some examples showing how we encourage children to learn through meal times:
- Personal, Social and Emotional Development
Meal times are used to encourage a child’s independence, their social skills and manners. Sharing foods socially with friends is an ideal way to introduce children to healthy ways of eating. There are also lots of opportunities for children to become more confident – being a helper at serving and tidy up times require them to interact with adults and other children.
- Physical Development
Serving and pouring is an excellent way to build hand to eye co-ordination. Using different utensils , spoons, knives and forks, also builds muscle control. Discussing the importance of self care such as washing hands before and after food, is essential and should form part of a child’s daily routine from a very young age.
- Communication and Language
Sitting in small groups during meal times helps encourage conversation amongst peers. They can discuss their favourite foods, what they like and don’t like and how different foods taste and smell.
There are lots of stories, poems and songs that mention food. These help develop a child’s understanding of recipes, remembering to say please and thank you exploring special occasions.
Counting cutlery, cups. plates and pieces of fruit or vegetables when setting the table or at snack time can be used to support maths skills. Sorting and matching foods into different types can help promote organisational skills and reasoning.
- Understanding the World
Food plays a huge part in religions and cultures around the word and meal times are a fantastic opportunity to discuss these in more depth. British values should also be promoted daily during meal times. Growing fruit and vegetables teaches children about where food comes from, life cycles, gardening and how to look after plants.
- Expressive Arts and Designs
Discussions take place at meal times about the different textures of food and favourite meals. These can then be recreated during creative play. Different colours and shapes are also explored during meal and snack times.