As we start to get ready for our SEVENTH year of preschool, I was reflecting on a typical preschool day and I think my favourite part of our day is snack time. Because who doesn’t love food, right?!? But honestly, I think that is when we see our students at their most authentic and relaxed. They get to choose where to sit and with whom and it’s magical. Friendships develop over apple slices and fishy crackers. Food interests are started when friends are enjoying something you’ve never tried. We’ve had to move tables together to accommodate the large group that all wants to eat together. And, let me tell you, being invited to join a student at snack time feels pretty fantastic as a preschool teacher!
There are so many researched benefits of shared mealtime that we see each day at preschool. It is unstructured time that allows for natural conversations between children and adults. It creates a sense of community as we all sit together and enjoy a meal as a family does at home. And just like family meal times, eating together and talking about food can help foster healthy eating habits.
Our students REALLY love to ask each other who has the same snack items they do. It’s adorable, it’s authentic communication and it’s all about sharing a common experience. As teachers, we like to jump in with the French vocabulary to help them develop these basic words. Snack is a major element to our preschool day so it is a crucial part of learning routines at preschool. We begin with hand washing in a line, getting our backpacks and bringing them to a table, finding somewhere to sit, getting out our snack and opening containers and cleaning up after ourselves. These basic routines help us prepare for elementary school and increase a child’s sense of independence. We strive to nurture children’s growing sense of capability and help them learn how to care for their belongings.
Another aspect of nearly every class we’ve ever had is dietary restrictions and food allergies. I think it’s actually pretty great to make these conversations a normal part of a preschoolers’ day. Some children can’t eat certain things or they’ll feel sick. We need to work together as a group to keep our friends safe at preschool. Some children don’t eat certain foods because of their culture or family beliefs. We are all unique and different in some ways and very similar in others. Food is just one way to understand our friends better.
Do you enjoy family meal times together?