Filed under: Uncategorized. Tagged as: cooking, creativity, diversity, food, lunch.
Our mid-semester survey indicated that a couple of you may not be entirely happy with our snack offerings. We, as early childhood educators, have an obligation to expose our students to diversity and new experiences, and this includes what they eat.
We know that individuals establish many of their eating habits in the first five years of their lives. Furthermore, day cares and early learning centers have been accused of contributing to the childhood obesity “epidemic”. With that being said, our goal is to help create healthy, happy, and productive adults; and we firmly believe that good nutritional habits are an integral part of this general goal.
The “peer pressure” that can tend to get kids in trouble later on, actually works to our advantage in the early years! When kids see their friends enjoying something which they are unfamiliar with, they are more likely to get excited about trying it. And this is another reason why we are a great venue for kids to try/be exposed to new foods.
I intentionally used the word “exposed” above, because for finicky eaters, this exposure is an important step in trying new foods. Most studies indicate that it takes at least five times of experiencing something new before kids lose their fear of it. So when a child pushes food around on a plate, or looks at it and then throws it away without taking a “No Thank You Bite”, they’re learning to like it (or at least learning to not be scared of it).
But I’m scared my child is going to starve…
I promise you that no one is going to go hungry. If they get to that point, they’ll eat–even the most stubborn of kids!
With that being said, I certainly don’t want anyone to be uncomfortable or upset. So we are doing our best to incorporate some choices into our snack routines. After all, there are some food items that just don’t get along with individuals. No matter how many times I take “No Thank You Bites” of olives, I still never like them. But you know what? I keep trying, because I know our tastes evolve and change. This is particularly important at a young age, because our tastes change much more rapidly than they do when we are 27, 37, 47, and beyond!
Friday’s morning snack (inspired by this recipe) was not only a HUGE hit with the kids, but it’s also a good example of giving kids options. It gets bonus points, because I think it would make a great, easy, and convenient breakfast option at home. Every student got a tortilla (or a half of one for the younger students), and the teachers set out different spreads and toppings for them (cream cheese, peanut butter, jelly, granola, dried fruit, chocolate chips, fresh fruit, etc.) and the students were able to create their own wraps. They used popsicle sticks as their knives, so there was no fear of injury!
And on a final note, I would like to point out that a majority of our students are having a great time exploring new food items. Some unexpected favorites we’ve discovered:
- Baked pancakes (we use Bisquick pancake batter, mix in some additions, and bake at 450 degrees for twenty minutes)
- The homemade cereal bars I posted about in October
- Roasted sweet potatoes
- Hot bean dip with carrots (this got bonus points in our book, as we were able to use the leftovers in quesadillas)
- Grape tomatoes & cheese cubes