More than just a meal

Lunch time is a really significant part of our day in the ELC….but it is more than just a meal. The routine of lunch has become an important, eagerly awaited ritual, that is refined day by day throughout the year. The daily delegates have now gone back to helping to set the tables each day (after Covid) where they work together to space out the crockery and cutlery, considering carefully what will be required each day – plates or bowls? Forks or spoons or even chopsticks? How many children are we setting the table for?

During the meal, children are given opportunities to select from the food presented to them and choose whether they would like ‘a little bit’ or ‘a lot’. New foods are encouraged, but not forced, as we often see children grow in their confidence to take risks with their eating… and it’s amazing what a little bit of positive peer pressure can do! Children are supported to serve themselves with increasing independence, and many exercise agency by capably manipulating the tongs and serving spoons. Calming music plays in the background, but quietly enough to allow for the mealtime chatter between friends. It is often during ‘everyday experiences’ such as these that we learn so much about children and their families. The atmosphere is calm and relaxed, and children express themselves freely during casual conversation with each other, and with their educators. These enjoyable group experiences enable children to develop a stronger sense of belonging and understanding of manners and expectations in a comfortable and friendly setting.

At the end of each meal, children carefully take their bowls, plates and glasses to the kitchen to clear off the scraps and stack them ready for the dishes. They can inspect their faces in the mirror, often requiring a serviette to remove the evidence of a deliciously rich pasta sauce!

We are so grateful to Marie and her team in the kitchen who put so much care and effort into menu planning and making our meals each day. There is a lot of thought put into maximising nutrition, balancing different meats with vegetarian options and catering for the vast array of dietary needs within the ELC.

And after all that… who could think of anything better than a little lie down!

Alicia Flowers
Assistant Director of Early Learning