Healthy Meals for Children

ID-100110377Nannytraininglink was concerned to read a report in the national press this week highlighting the inability of young school children to use cutlery, an inability that is adversely impacting on the free school meals plan that was introduced by Nick Clegg to encourage healthy eating in school children.

Admittedly, the free school meals plan has attracted its fair share of controversies but this latest news is an unexpected and worrying development. It seems that young children are so used to being served finger food that they have not developed the basic skills to use knives, forks and spoons (the most simple of tools).  With family lives being so focused on “earning a crust” it seems that “sharing the crust” has become somewhat passé, with children eating independently of their parents, often having so-called convenience foods in front of the television or whilst engaged in some other activity.

Nannytraininglink appreciates that in the busy world in which we live that it can be difficult to find time to eat together but we would urge parents to make time to share meals with their children as often as they possibly can, at the very least setting aside two evenings a week to eat together as a family with all distractions (laptops, phones and the television) switched off. The joy of the family meal as a social, educational and cultural event cannot be over-emphasised. A family meal encourages conversation, an opportunity to reflect on the day, talk about recent events and share concerns; it brings generations together, establishes relationships and forms lasting familial bonds; it “leads by example”, teaching and ingraining social skills, acceptable behaviour and good manners: moreover, it stimulates good digestion and fosters healthy eating …and, of course, teaches children how to use knives, forks and spoons!

If parents cannot be available at meal times nannies are ideally placed to adopt a parental role by preparing and sharing meals with the children for whom they care. Involving children in meal preparation can be great fun -as well as educational- and often encourages children to eat more healthily, particularly if they have chosen the ingredients and cooked them. These are all valuable and necessary life skills. In recognition of the vital role that healthy eating plays in a child’s emotional, physical and social development, Nannytraininglink training offers courses on child nutrition and healthy eating, which are core components in much of its training programme. Please contact us for more details.

Margaret Cowell

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