- September 9, 2014
Lunchtime in Murray House is a relaxed affair, with plenty of opportunities for the children help themselves and to chat with their friends and educators.
The lunchtime routine in Murray House (as in all centres at The Infants’ Home) is ‘progressive’, with small groups of up to eight children at a time sitting at the lunch table. The progressive lunch runs from 1130am to 1pm, and the children choose when they would like to eat. As each group finishes, their names are ticked off a list to make sure that nobody misses out.
Centre director Vin Christanto says doing lunch this way means that children’s play does not have to be interrupted and they don’t have to be asked to stop what they are doing to eat lunch all together. This is important she says, as it recognises that “Play is children’s work”, and it respects the fact that not all children will be ready to eat or be hungry at the same time. This flexible approach to meal times helps to make it a pleasant and unhurried experience, as well allowing the meal routine itself to offer valuable opportunities for children’s learning.
The children are encouraged to serve themselves, and by this time of the year they have it down pat – there are few spills, and when there are, it isn’t a big deal. The educator or the children themselves can quickly wipe up any messes. The children are very conscious of hygiene when using shared serving utensils.
Apart from helping the children to gain independence and self-help skills, encouraging them to serve themselves has other advantages. It means that the educators can take the time to have relaxed conversations with the children, rather than rushing around trying to serve everybody. Vin also says that some children who are usually dedicated non-vegetable eaters will often eat the vegetables that they have served to themselves. She says that parents are often astounded when they find out that their child quite willingly tucked into the veges served that day!
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