Why meal times should be a time for learning
Zeena Assam, Founder & Managing Director at Creative Nest Nursery in Dubai, discusses the benefits of selecting a nursery that not only provides children with healthy meals, but includes meal times as part of its daily curriculum.
At Creative Nest Nursery, a Reggio Emilia inspired nursery, meal time is considered a learning time.
The kitchen is considered an atelier (art centre) and food is treated as one of the 100 languages of children. Children are involved in the entire process – from the food prep, to laying the table and clearing away dishes – all while appreciating the nutritional benefits of the food they’re consuming, thus instilling healthy habits early on.
On a daily basis, children at Creative Nest Nursery are encouraged to set the table beautifully, and are asked to pick flowers as centre pieces, and use linen, ceramics and glass to create a table display worthy of a dinner party setting.
Table etiquette is a crucial part of engaging in an enjoyable dinner experience, and it is therefore vital that these habits are instilled in children from a young age. At Creative Nest Nursery, children learn about portion control and improve their motor skills through self-serving during the meal. We also work hard to ensure that they understand the principles of presenting themselves politely at the table, while also appreciating the concept of sharing food with others.
Once a week, we encourage the children to get hands on with preparing their food in our cooking class, where this learning is put into practice in our cozy and child-sized, purpose built Mini Chefs Kitchen.
Children put on their aprons, then get to chop, touch, and taste the food that they cook. A little mess and a lot of laughs is expected, as they wash fruit and vegetables, chop and shred, mix and knead dough while they make delicious and healthy dishes such as salads, smoothies, pizzas and more. The amazing warm aroma of delicious food from the kitchen has everyone coming in to see what’s cooking!
To finish, children clear the table, wash the dishes and clean the kitchen. They are learning throughout the entire process – from testing their numerical skills in measuring ingredients, to learning about plant reproduction with prepping fruit and vegetables. In addition, they are enhancing their literacy skills through conducting dialogue with teachers and friends, and are ultimately having fun.
Parents are involved too, and are invited to join their children in the kitchen for our regular signature events such as “Mamas and Muffins” and “Babas and Biscuits”.
At Creative Nest Nursery, we believe meal times are about the experience of food, rather than the feeding of children.
Want to see for yourself how cooking with children can be both a fun and educational activity? Visit Creative Nest Nursery’s amazing Mini Chefs Kitchen. For more information, contact us at 042633876 or visit our website creativenestnursery.com
If you liked this story, you may be interested in reading about the educational benefits of nursery care for the under-twos.