One of the most difficult realities of the Covid-19 Pandemic has been that families are not able to come into our school. As you all know, this means that so much of our life together at school is invisible to you unless otherwise posted on Instagram, sent via text/email, and/or through this medium, our weekly Newsletter. Therefore, we wanted to take a moment to offer a glimpse at a part of our day that wouldn’t otherwise be seen- Meal Time. For this purpose, I (Cody) interviewed Sam, Hayln, and Shianne, and this is what they shared:
Cody: In three words, how would you describe the Infant mealtime(s)?
Sam: Intentional, respectful & fun!
Cody: Tell us why you chose one of those three words.
Sam: I chose the word respectful because infants' journey with food is such a new process that honoring each child’s approach makes a big difference! Each child may have a different interaction with food & as they have experiences with different whole & natural foods preferences arise! By respecting each child our meal times are very enjoyable to spend together!
Cody: What do you enjoy most about mealtime(s)? Why?
Sam: The process each day! For example Evie’s excitement as she transitioned from the blanket on the floor to sitting at the table in a chair after building those muscles! Watching Bella and Edie use sign language to express what they need. Watching Gideon smile and mimic his friends in his selection of what to eat next! Using positive language around meal time to encourage and demonstrate healthy attitudes and mindset towards food!
Cody: Is there anything that might surprise some about that time together?
Sam: The children are familiar with the process and we can all sit at the table for up to 45 minutes! Friends are often motivated by their peers at the table to keep trying and eating more food rather than cleaning up to play!
Cody: Is there anything else you’d like to share about mealtime(s)?
Sam: I wish I had had an exposure to conversations about where foods came from, how they grew, or were made into the delicious dishes we had each day, when I was growing up! Having a lush garden to contribute to our meals brings a full circle around how we energize and take care of our bodies! Infants find so much wonder through these conversations!
Cody: In three words, how would you describe your mealtime(s) together?
Hayln: joyful, delicious, exploration
Cody: Tell us why you chose one of those three words.
Hayln: I think exploration is a big one. We try and retry a variety of foods prepared in different ways. We explore how to be with our peers at a table while eating. Lastly, we explore how to share the experience of sharing food and stories and songs.
Cody: How have you seen mealtime(s) together evolve since infancy?
Hayln: when the group was younger, a lot of our work around mealtimes was the sensory experience of having different textures of food and drinks and what it meant to eat solid foods and drink from cups. Nowadays, with our mealtime routine established, we get to talk about the particulars of food - peels and rinds - and the experience is more centered around sharing a meal together.
Cody: What do you enjoy most about that time together? Why?
Hayln: the best part about meals for me is the sharing of stories and songs in such an intimate space. We are united in the desire to share a meal (this group loves to eat) and lately we've added so much communication about the food or stories about everyone's home time, or even how to say "more" with language or signing.
Cody: Is there anything that people might find surprising about your mealtime(s)?
Hayln: How much food everyone eats! As the cook, I prepare a lot of veggies, protein, and grains and I find it surprising when I hear that all or most of the food was consumed at lunch time!
Cody: What else would you like to share?
Hayln: One of the parts that I really enjoy about mealtime is sharing in spoken and signed language. We have been practicing, since infancy, how to use our hands or words to communicate, and lately everyone has been participating with ease!
Cody: In three words, how would you describe the preschool mealtime(s)?
Shianne: Silly, engaged, curious
Cody: Out of those three words, which one do you think encompases Preschool mealtime(s) best? Why?
Shianne: Engaged. I think that’s seen through how we “check-in” in the mornings at the table. And I think they’re all good at being both a speaker and a listener during that time. They can switch between these roles well, which makes for some great mealtime conversation!
Cody: What is your favorite part of that time together? Why?
Shianne: I love when everybody shares about their home life and their experiences. For example, I like monday mornings when everyone comes in to share what they’ve been doing with their families. I think it builds community!
Cody: Is there anything that people might find surprising about mealtime(s)?
Shianne: I think children expand their food palette based on their surroundings. Without it even being spoken verbally, they come to appreciate various foods, as they witness one another enjoying all of what’s available.
Cody: What else would you like to share?Shianne: One of the things that the children do before every meal is choose a song to sing together. Sometimes that song is something that we all know, and sometimes the child who is choosing decides that they want to make up their own words to an existing song. And sometimes we all make up a new one together! Because of this, I think that each of them has become more confident in their ability/creativity to come up with something new that we all can enjoy.