Mealtimes and healthy eating behaviours
The guide to the NEW National Quality Framework states Assessors may observe educators sitting with children and modelling, implementing and reinforcing healthy eating and nutrition practices with children during mealtimes.
Mealtimes are a great opportunity to promote children’s learning and reinforce healthy eating practices. To meet the assessment criteria, it’s important that all staff involved in meal times are actively modelling and reinforcing healthy eating practises during mealtimes.
Educators can help provide a healthy eating environment by:
- Sitting and eating with the children. This role modelling of behaviours and healthy eating practises is very important.
- Using positive commentary about the healthy foods the children are eating. Read more
- Teaching children about healthy eating through discussions and questions during the mealtime.
- Encouraging children to talk with each other to model the social interaction that comes with mealtimes.
- Encouraging children to try new foods. Some children may manage to take a small bite, or others may simply smell, lick or kiss the new food. Every interaction with new foods is positive.
- Some children can be particularly fussy with food. This should not be a cause of stress or concern at mealtimes. Children can be encouraged to try foods in a positive manner, but should never be forced or pressured to eat.
- Staff and carers should not react negatively to the inevitable mess that comes with children’s exploration of food.
How you can support staff to meet these criteria?
- At your next staff meeting, discuss amongst educators what intentional teaching strategies (for example, demonstration and role modelling) could be adopted to encourage children to make healthy food choices for themselves.
- Ensure that mealtime periods are adequately staffed so that educators don’t feel rushed and can promote a relaxed environment for children.
- Give educators the opportunity to build on their own nutrition knowledge through seminars, workshops and training. Click here to find out more about Food Foundations training seminars.
Finally, make sure you document experiences ready for Assessment and Rating!