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!
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.
Young infants develop a unique relationship—known as attachment—with their caregivers. To develop secure bonds, infants need to know that at least one person really cares about them. Caregivers provide that comfort by helping infants regulate needs and emotions, such as hunger and sadness. With healthy attachments, infants develop a sense of safety and trust.
Infants need to be held, to have face-to-face interactions, to feel another human heartbeat. By meeting these needs, caregivers foster attachment. Plan how you will meet these essential needs—while keeping yourself and infants safe.
Children need to feel safe before they can explore their surroundings. While curiosity and exploration help awaken children’s talents, teachers help reinforce their learning through guidance and repetition. All children benefit from intentional interactions that inspire them through new experiences—and some children need additional or individualized support.
Given the natural need to be around others, children might have a hard time with social distancing. Organize materials in spaces where two friends can explore together. Make yourself available to facilitate their exploration while ensuring safety.
Toddlers reinforce their trust in caregivers while venturing into the world on their own. Along with stable relationships and independence, they need frequent reminders of behavioral expectations to keep themselves and their peers safe. With support and regulation, educators can help buffer the effects of stress or trauma and promote healthy child development.
Children learn best in a warm, safe environment. While positive interactions strengthen a classroom community, clear safety expectations promote healthiness. Remind children that these measures are in place because you care about them.