Serving meals to preschool children can be challenging. The daily schedule can easily get away from you through unexpected interruptions, spending more time than planned on an exciting activity, sick children, or some of the many accidents that occur in busy classrooms. As a result, mealtimes often get pushed to the side as just one of the daily routines necessary to get through the day.
But we should still be thoughtful to include high-quality interactions at mealtimes for many reasons. First, is that with our nation’s high obesity rates, the emphasis on nutrition and healthy choices is growing. Secondly, we know that many families are busy and mealtimes are often sacrificed at home.
Finding ways to engage children during mealtime as a relaxing and important interaction of each day matters! That’s why I’m here to discuss how you can include the CLASS dimension of Instructional Learning Formats (ILF) while children eat.
So, you might wonder, “How do I do this if I’m already so busy?” Well, I’ve got just the recipe for you.
I don’t know about you, but I love it when I already have the ingredients for a recipe in my pantry. The wonderful thing about this recipe is that every teacher has all of the ingredients at their fingertips!
Mix together high-quality amounts of:
Including ILF on the daily menu is beneficial in transforming mealtime from a routine part of the day into an opportunity to support children’s development both emotionally and cognitively. From comparing and classifying the meal to supporting social skills and building relationships, serving up ILF at every meal is a tasty idea!
Do you have fond childhood memories of sitting with a special adult and listening to them read one of your favorite stories? I vividly remember my dad reading The Elephant’s Child by Rudyard Kipling to me and how we laughed together at the funny voices he used. As an educator, you know how important those moments are for building warm connections, enjoying time together, and learning about many things. So, even if you missed out on those moments as a child, you want to create those moments for the children in your classroom. With careful planning, you can be confident that your read-alouds will be exciting, effective learning opportunities.
The majority of early childhood classrooms have at least one child who is a dual language learner (DLL) and this population is growing. One in three children from birth to age six speak a language besides English at home. Consequently, the majority of teachers need strategies on how to best support this group of students. We reached out to Veronica Fernandez, Developmental Psychologist and Research Scientist at the University of Miami for strategies she’s found most successful.
As part of our Teacher Spotlight series, we recently asked the CLASS Community to nominate a teacher whose high-quality classroom interactions are making a difference for their dual language learners. Our winner, Kim Schoell, has been teaching for 20 years and is currently a Pre-K teacher in Frederick County, VA. 67% of her students are Hispanic and many of the children are dual language learners.
When COVID-19 hit and schools shut down, many of us were certain that it would not impact the 2020-21 school year. But with the pandemic surging and some schools opening up - only to shut down again, it’s clear that COVID is still with us. The length of the pandemic has only heightened concern about COVID related learning loss - especially among underserved populations.