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Family Style Meals
December 30, 2021
If you really want to make a friend, go to someone's house and eat with him...the people who give you their food give you their heart.
-Cesar Chavez
“Imagine an adult who can make an awesome construction paper heart, but can’t sit still for a meal.” Gigi Schweikert offers this provocation as she makes the case for family style meals in early childhood programs. “During meals, children learn social skills, language, fine motors skills, math concepts like one-to-one correspondence and ordering objects. They learn how to make choices, to develop greater self-confidence and the list goes on. Perhaps as educators, we should invest as much planning, preparation, and evaluation in meals as we do for other activities.”

Schweikert provides several tips for making family style meals work with young children – from providing more time to respecting children’s choices. Above all, “if the idea of family style is overwhelming, start small. Have children set the table and assist you in cleaning up. But most important, sit down and enjoy. And remember, naptime always comes right after lunch.”

Explore these ideas further in an Out of the Box Training based on Schweikert’s article, “Who Needs the Mess? Family-Style Meals.”




Out of the Box Training

Use coupon code CLASSROOMS at checkout
for buy one, get one free on
ALL Out of the Box Trainings

Out of the Box Training Kits are ready-to-use professional development programs on a variety of contemporary topics to support and improve the skills and pedagogy of those who work with young children.



May not be combined with any other offer. Not applicable on past purchases. Sale expires January 19, 2022 at 11:59 pm PST.

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Comments (2)

Displaying All 2 Comments
Exchange Press · January 03, 2022
United States


Monica, you put that beautifully! I used to be an infant teacher and meal time was my favorite because of the interactions we had with the children as well as with co-teachers.

Thank you for sharing!

-Tiffany at Exchange Press

Monica Jackson · December 30, 2021
Jackson Child Care
N Springfield, VA, United States


Amen! I cannot thank you enough for this validation. Family meal and snack time are more than meeting the kiddos' nutritional needs. Mealtime is an interactive and inclusive curriculum - life skills learning on a plate. From preparation to set up, eating, and all the dynamics and movement associated with the process, the art of conversation, etiquette, problem-solving, and clean-up are additional early learning developmental benefits.The children spend one-third of their day engaged in meals and snacks together.

We use mealtime to teach early developmental concepts in the various learning domains. However, more importantly, mealtime offers concrete multisensory experiences that foster the kiddos' conceptual understanding of humanity's life cycle and relational connectivity. https://healthykidshealthyfuture.org/links/jackson-child-care-serves-meals-family-style/.

Our early learning mealtime adventure begins in the dirt, where food comes. It continues with an outline of the process required to go from the farm to the table.



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