Throughout the year we introduce new or seasonal items to our breakfast, snack, and lunch menus. Breakfast is served daily until about 7:45 am. If your child arrives after 7:45 please give him/her breakfast at home. Teachers are cleaning up breakfast to start their day in the classrooms by 8:00. Children who arrive at 6:30 am are offered breakfast by 7:00 or earlier. We know they are probably hungry by the time they arrive at school so we waste no time getting breakfast on the table.
Morning snack consists of fresh fruit or vegetable daily. This is usually when we see and hear our “picky eaters” be their most boisterous about their food dislikes. Our approach to this is to encourage them to try a bite of the item each time it is served but we never force them to eat it entirety. Usually after they try it a few times they start to like it. Teachers explain that the foods we choose for their morning snack are smart, healthy choices for their bodies which help them grow strong and feel good.
Sometimes we encounter a particularly stubborn picky eater who will completely refuse to even try the healthy choice. If they choose not to eat morning snack they will be served lunch within a reasonable amount of time. If we give in to their pickiness and served them a less healthy snack we are compromising our beliefs and ultimately our message to the children. Giving in to a picky eater would communicate that the adults in their life are not decision-makers for them and reinforces defiant behaviors. This would also send a conflicting message to the other children in their group. Lunchtime is just a short time away and offers several options on their plates. We do not contact a parent over the refusal of a morning snack unless there is a diagnosed medical condition that requires a certain calorie intake daily.
Lunch is a busy time at Paradigm. We serve family-style so children are offered seconds or sometimes thirds of their favorite parts of the meal after they have tried a bite of everything. Lunchtime is a great time for the kids to chat with their teachers and friends. We encourage our teachers to sit and eat with their children. The conversations and teaching moments teachers have with their kids during mealtimes are so meaningful. This is one of the reasons we require families of children with food accommodations to provide an entire packed lunch that requires minimal preparation by the teachers. If teachers are having to heat foods or manage lists of different allergies, religious or other accommodations they are less engaged with the children. Since we have a number of children with differing mealtime requirements this prevents mistakes from happening. Our goal is to keep teachers as present as possible in teaching, loving, supporting, observing, and talking with children all day long therefore we make it a priority when considering what policies we put into place.
Many times our afternoon snack ends up being a birthday treat and a celebration for one of the kiddos! Since we do have children with allergies please only provide a store-bought treat with the ingredient list on the packaging. We apologize if you have a super fun and cute recipe you want to make. We want to keep everyone safe and included in celebrations whenever we can. Also since allergies can still be presenting themselves, someone could have a first-time reaction and his/her parents will appreciate the list of ingredients.
Developing healthy mealtime and eating habits requires us to maintain consistency.