I can honestly say I am absolutely blown away by the commitment and focus our Falkirk practitioners have had in implementing marvellous mealtimes. Just two years ago only two settings in Falkirk were implementing the very beginning of the approach.
Fast forward a few years with some challenges, a lot of possibilities, a few case studies and a few ( a lot!) visitors and we now have Marvellous Mealtimes sweeping across Falkirk.
While this year has been challenging in many ways, it was important not to lose focus of what is truly important to us in early years- to ensure our wee people are at the heart of all we do. As oor Lisa McCabe likes to remind us- “keep the main thing, the main thing” and put simply this is what you have done practitioners of Falkirk!
Of course there is still challenges and hurdles to overcome, however being solution focused, sharing practice and seeking support when needed is paramount in moving forward.
As we move forward in the marvellous mealtime experience and “The Larder” begins to provide opportunities for us to cook and bake with children, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to go over a few considerations and top tips.
Baking and cooking should still be happening regularly within your setting. However, as we know, things have had to be adapted and routines altered. The following points will support you in developing baking and cooking. :
- Cooking and baking should be implemented in small groups- a maximum of 3 children.
- Children should have access to their own set of ingredients and tools.
- Children should not prepare foods for others. Simply- they can only eat what they prepare.
Have a look at some of these examples from our #FabFalkirkFolk
In each of these examples you will notice how children have their own ingredients and tools with small groups of children taking part.
Marvellous Mealtimes Top Tips
- While a small group of children bake or group in a day it doesn’t mean that the larder can’t be used for the whole setting. For example while your wee bakers mix, measure and roll their own bread; a batch for the rest of the children can be made individually by a practitioner for everyone at snack, following the appropriate cooksafe procedures. Access the most up-to-date version of cooksafe here.
- It’s important children have the right tools. These knives are sturdy and safe but do the job. If we want children to develop the skills for baking and cooking, butter knives for chopping will simply not cut it (no pun intended!). Follow the link here.
- Maximizing the outdoor space is a great way of continuing the marvellous mealtimes experience. Get your wee people involved in developing their eating spaces outdoors.
- Be aware of your snack time experience- are there tongs and spoons for children to use? Do children have their own knives for spreading? How long is snack available for? Do children help to plan their snack menu and choose which foods to eat?
The Scottish Government have updated their Early Years COVID Guidance including a snack and mealtimes update. You can access this here.
“It is important to continue to ensure that mealtimes are a relaxed and enjoyable time where children can socialise, while implementing practical approaches to prevent the spread and control of infection.” (Scottish Government, 2020)
As always please just get in touch if you have any questions at email@example.com. Remember to access the marvellous mealtimes section on Falkirk Early Learning – Home