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!
The time has come for hard conversations.
That’s the feedback we have been receiving from educators across the country. There are plenty of tough conversations educators are trained, taught, or feel equipped to handle with children and families - gently bringing up a developmental concern, facilitating a disagreement between students, or explaining what happened with the classroom goldfish are all part of a day in the life. But in the last year, since the killing of George Floyd and other Black people at the hands of police, educators are increasingly asking for help in communicating more comfortably with young children about diversity and difference.
I was supposed to be an architect, instead I was a teacher of young children; it felt like my calling.
When I started my coursework, they tasked me with visiting multiple classrooms. It overwhelmed me when in some classrooms, children were crying, teachers were frustrated, and no one seemed to enjoy the day. I thought I had made a mistake. Thankfully, I had a professor who inspired me to continue. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by the behaviors I observed in both children and teachers, the professor charged me to uncover the root of those behaviors.
And so, my journey to support social-emotional development began.
This past year of hybrid and virtual learning due to the pandemic highlighted the gaps in learning and the inequities that we already knew existed. It is apparent, now more than ever, that there needs to be a narrow focus on bridging the divides (e.g., digital) that exist and meeting students where they are in order to promote growth and put less emphasis on standardized testing. This would allow teachers to concentrate on curriculum with greater impact, differentiate their instruction, and utilize effective strategies that they know make a difference for children’s outcomes.