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Encouraging Families to Learn About Food at Home

Written by: Jamie Douglas

As an early years setting you have lots of opportunities for children to learn about and explore different foods. You can support  children’s specific learning areas in line with  the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework . For example, their ‘Understanding of the world’, through  activities such as growing strawberries, teaching children where different foods come from or about growing cycles.

To further support children’s learning, you can support families to continue to learning about food at home.

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Below are some ideas for encouraging children and their families to learn about food together outside of your setting:

Drawing fruit and vegetables

Activity: Encourage families to draw a new fruit or vegetable and write down one interesting fact about the food. For example, families could draw a carrot and discuss  how these  vegetables  grow  in soil under ground.

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Learning linked to EYFS:

  • Physical development – Drawing fruits and vegetables is a chance for children to improve fine and gross motor skills from learning to hold and use pencils or pens
  • Understand the world – Food drawing activities are another opportunity for children to understand the world as they can learn where food comes from or how it grows
  • Literacy- Food drawing activities are another opportunity for children to develop their literacy by describing what they have drawn, and describe the name or colour of the food
  • Expressive arts and design- Drawing can alert children to new shapes as well as colours.

Food detective activity in the local supermarket

Activity:  Why not set the whole family a home learning activity around finding a healthy breakfast option in their local supermarket. Encouraging families to use their detective skills to find a healthy breakfast swap. This may include swapping sugary cereal for porridge, plain shredded wheat, or plain wheat bisks cereals and topping them with their favourite fruit for their weekend breakfast. You could guide children and families during the activity by offering healthy breakfast swaps ideas using Change4Life Cutting Back Sugar tool and make them aware of your breakfast options from your menu.

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Learning linked to EYFS:

  • Physical development: A trip to the local supermarket can be used to support children in how to make healthy food choices  and encourage children to be physically active  through walking their and back
  • Personal, social and emotional development: By swapping their sugary breakfast option for a new food, learning to overcome dislikes for certain foods.

Growing Activity

Activity: There are lots of things you can grow from fruits and vegetables to herbs. A simple one to start off with is to grow cress. Ask families to record the changes they see, learning how foods can grow. The only equipment required is something to plant the seeds e.g. Old  recyclable yoghurt or plastic pots and you only need a small space such as a window ledge. More details can be found here.

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Learning linked to EYFS:

  • Understand the world: Growing cress at home is a simple fun activity which can teach children about gardening and how to look after plants, life cycles and how plants grow.
  • Communication and language: This activity can be used to develop children language by learning to describe what changes have happened.

Cooking at home

Activity: Consider sharing healthy, fun and creative recipes with families as part of home learning and challenge them to cook and eat together. Make sure you  share recipes which are in-line with the Eat Better Start Better food and drinks guidelines, or the nutrition teams Eat in with Early Start recipes on YouTube, recipes from your menu or First Steps Nutrition.

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Learning linked to EYFS:

  • Personal, social and emotional:  Cooking at home can teach children to learn to work with others in their family and increase their self esteem.
  •  Mathematics- Through counting out spoonful’s of ingredients or learning to weight out ingredients with their parents or carers.

Using activities to communicate healthy eating messages to children

In line with EFYS, early years settings should support children to understand the importance of healthy eating. One of the key ways for children to achieve this is through supporting them to know what foods do for their bodies and which foods they should eat more or less of. Food activities, such as cooking and reading food themed books are excellent ways to support learning about food. Should you wish to give your staff the knowledge and confidence to communicate healthy eating messages through food based activities with children in your setting, then book our Tier 3 Cooking and Learning about Food module.

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