Nursery Days Independence at Meal times
As a teacher my question is why would you not want your child to be independent? Parents are children’s first educators, we know how exhausting it can be. We often find with our busy lives it is quicker and simpler to do everything for our children, like putting on their shoes and coat for example.
As a parent you may feel doing everything for your child shows them how much you love and care for them. You may think it is not safe for your child to learn by themselves. However, it is so important to allow your child their independence, no matter what your reasons for not doing so.
While all children will go through the fussy stage, this can be minimised by making mealtimes a less stressful time for children. Whether you are going for a baby led weaning approach or a more traditional spoon-fed approach, making mealtimes enjoyable and above all ‘normal’ for children is a much better approach, and independence is a big part of that.
We develop independence by providing children with self-serving dishes where they can learn about the importance of making choices and using utensils correctly.
By getting the children involved in the preparation and serving you are actively involving them in the process of the meal. It gives you the time to get everything set up, as the children are already learning and playing as part of getting prepared. The process of laying out plates and cutlery is a great opportunity for discussion about numbers and colours, and some child-sized utensils with different colours can help encourage children to serve themselves too.
During mealtimes we have conversations encouraging children to voice their thoughts and listen to their peers, once finished eating the independence continues by clearing away their plates.
The children scrape their plates and then give them a wash, they love being given time to be independent which also encourages communication and social skills as they help friends out when needed. Children are given plenty of food and time so they feel empowered to eat and stop eating, listening to their body and trusting their choices.