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Our children (most aged 2 to 3) are asked to sit down together for snack time in my setting which is fine by me. However my problem is that it sometimes goes on for so long, with a rule that no one can get down until the last child has finished eating and drinking, and then the children get so bored. They all start wandering off and we have to take them back to the table, and tell them to sit still. Snack time generally ends when there as so many children are wandering off that staff have no hope of getting them all back, rather than any definate 'you can all get down now'.

 

There must be a better way I can suggest we do things, (bearing in mind that my colleagues and supervisor believe that children should be taught the social rules of waiting until everyone has finished before getting down)????

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Are you perhaps providing too much to eat? It shouldn't take a long time really. All ours sit down together - it's sometimes the only time that children sit down at a table to eat with other people, so we feel it's very important.

 

Bearing in mind that it's only a 'snack' not a main meal, the child who is the session helper chooses 3 things from a selection (carrot sticks, grapes, eighths of apple, cucumber wedges, raisins in portions in egg cups, banana quarters and sometimes strawberries, pineapple chunks or mini tomatoes) to be the session snack. They stick pictures of their choice on a board so that everyone knows what there is going to be to eat. Children choose as the tray is passed round and then the tray is left on the table for the quicker eaters to finish off.

 

We have sometimes put a plate with a selection of things between two children, and this works quite well too.

 

Children do wait until everyone is finished, as I too firmly believe in this. The session helper then takes a basket round and collects the cups and tablemats and takes them through for washing.

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we also have sit down snck lasts approx 15 mins, children help themselves to snacks and drinks then once finish go and wash thier bowls and cups - once one gets up th othrs follow aso most finish about the same time and go off to play again :o

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Firstly I would like to say that I firmly do not believe in enforcing this 'social rule' for children aged 2/3 years old. Ask yourself if this is developmentally appropriate, in the same way that you would when evaluating any other activity in your session. I suspect that the expectations regarding many children are much higher than they are capable of achieving in this regard. What sort of experience do you think snack is for these children? Certainly not an enjoyable experience that they look forward to!

 

Having said that, I do think that children should stop at some point for snack, and that when they do they should sit at a table for a reasonable amount of time, finish eating and then leave. This length of time can be extended when they are developmentally ready for it!

 

However, I appreciate that your hands are a little tied in this regard Starburst. Perhaps as a starting point you could discuss with your colleagues what they think is a reasonable amount of time for the children to be sat at the snack table. You could then set a timer for this length of time and once it goes off any children who have finished may leave the table, leaving the slower children to eat at their own pace without feeling pressurised to eat up quickly. :o

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Hi there

 

We have a free flow snack in the morning, with only four available places. Made obvious by the fact that there are only four cups, plates and chairs around the table, so children police this themselves. We find that it can be just as much a social event (on a small scale) and often adults will sit down too, if there is a space. In the afternoons, we tend to provide group snack and suffer the same dilemmas as you have mentioned. I do agree, expecting 2-3 year olds to sit still for longer than they feel able to is not really the answer. We have tried having servers and so on, which works with the older children, but younger ones are really the problem. It may be worth trying to sit the slower children together and the fast eaters can wait until their group is all finished and then do something else. After all, if our slow eaters are anything to go by, nothing will speed them up - and why should it!!

 

Good luck!

 

xD:o

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I also do not believe that very young children should be made to sit at a table waiting for others to finish. Most children of this age are developmentally unready for this and also find it difficult to understand why they have to wait for so long when they're itching to go off and play. I worry that the only social rule children will learn is that snack time is boring! :(

 

We've come under pressure from various quarters to implement a snack bar but when I talked to parents about this they made it clear that they really value the fact that their children are sitting down together to eat. This pleased us because we like our snacktime, but we were also concerned that children were sitting for too long. So we reached a compromise - once children have finished their snack they can get up from the table and once they have put their cup. plate and any left over food away they can go off and play.

 

Inevitably we need to persuade some children to finish their food (and have to enforce the "no getting up when you've still got food in your mouth" rule) but I have to say that this works really well in our setting. Children's behaviour at snack time is much better, and one spin off is that some children like to spend a longer time eating their snack - and threy can now do this without the fear of being hurried up so we can get on with the next thing! We thought that children would rush through their snack to go off to play but there really isn't any evidence of this: just that children spend as long as they need/require over their snack and then get on with whatever they have on their agenda. xD

 

Maz

 

PS I also should say that some members of the team are uncertain about the 'social rules' thing and think children should be made to sit and wait for their friends to finish. But I'm working on them! :o

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I also do not believe that very young children should be made to sit at a table waiting for others to finish. Most children of this age are developmentally unready for this and also find it difficult to understand why they have to wait for so long when they're itching to go off and play. I worry that the only social rule children will learn is that snack time is boring! :(

 

We've come under pressure from various quarters to implement a snack bar but when I talked to parents about this they made it clear that they really value the fact that their children are sitting down together to eat. This pleased us because we like our snacktime, but we were also concerned that children were sitting for too long. So we reached a compromise - once children have finished their snack they can get up from the table and once they have put their cup. plate and any left over food away they can go off and play.

 

Inevitably we need to persuade some children to finish their food (and have to enforce the "no getting up when you've still got food in your mouth" rule) but I have to say that this works really well in our setting. Children's behaviour at snack time is much better, and one spin off is that some children like to spend a longer time eating their snack - and threy can now do this without the fear of being hurried up so we can get on with the next thing! We thought that children would rush through their snack to go off to play but there really isn't any evidence of this: just that children spend as long as they need/require over their snack and then get on with whatever they have on their agenda. xD

 

Maz

 

PS I also should say that some members of the team are uncertain about the 'social rules' thing and think children should be made to sit and wait for their friends to finish. But I'm working on them! :o

sounds like we do a similar thing :(

 

We have 6 places at the table, we have the childrens names on a board which they come and get to transfer to another board so we know who has been. The children then sit down with their cups and bowls of fruit (after wiping their hands with antibac wipes). once a child has finished they ask to get down, then they bring their cups etc up for washing. All the children know that once a chair is free at the table they can come and get their name and sit down - it really really works for us.

 

Also they have their own lil jugs that they pour their own drink from :)

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Our snacktime sounds very similar to mrsbats except children put their name cards in front of them on a the table and there are separate water and milk dispensers which the children use to get their drinks. We also encourage the children to chop up their own fruit and vegetables into smaller pieces. An adult is always at the table and as well as chatting to the children, encourages them to try new foods and record that they have been for snack. The name cards also state any allergies etc that children may have.

Karrie

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I've just registered on this Forum and find all the subjects very interesting. We used to have a set snack time up until two years ago when, acting on the advice of our Early Years Advisory teacher, we started having a rolling snack time from 10 until 11. 5 children sit at the table at a time with an adult and have their snack and drink. They have a choice of bread or breadsticks with houmous or cheese, some fruit plus milk or water which we encourage the children to pour out themselves. At first I was a little unsure how it would work but actually it has been great. It gives us extra time for activities so that children do not have to stop what they are doing just when they engrossed in their play. The conversation around the table is great and it can bring in most of the ELG's. One little boy found that if he broke his breadstick in two and put one horizontally on top of the other, he made a letter T! The social interaction is lovely to witness especially if one considers that some of these children probably never sit around a table for a meal. The children find their name on our self-registration board and put it in the special tin when they are finished and this means that they do not have to sit around for an unacceptable length of time.

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I've just registered on this Forum and find all the subjects very interesting. We used to have a set snack time up until two years ago when, acting on the advice of our Early Years Advisory teacher, we started having a rolling snack time from 10 until 11. 5 children sit at the table at a time with an adult and have their snack and drink. They have a choice of bread or breadsticks with houmous or cheese, some fruit plus milk or water which we encourage the children to pour out themselves. At first I was a little unsure how it would work but actually it has been great. It gives us extra time for activities so that children do not have to stop what they are doing just when they engrossed in their play. The conversation around the table is great and it can bring in most of the ELG's. One little boy found that if he broke his breadstick in two and put one horizontally on top of the other, he made a letter T! The social interaction is lovely to witness especially if one considers that some of these children probably never sit around a table for a meal. The children find their name on our self-registration board and put it in the special tin when they are finished and this means that they do not have to sit around for an unacceptable length of time.

 

Welcome to the forum Sue. :o Your snack time experience sounds very much like my old playgroup. I was very resistant to changing to a rolling snack but once we did we found it great. As you say, it is a wonderful opportunity to carry out observations on small groups of children and really get to know each other much better. xD

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Firstly I would like to say that I firmly do not believe in enforcing this 'social rule' for children aged 2/3 years old. Ask yourself if this is developmentally appropriate, in the same way that you would when evaluating any other activity in your session. I suspect that the expectations regarding many children are much higher than they are capable of achieving in this regard. What sort of experience do you think snack is for these children? Certainly not an enjoyable experience that they look forward to!

I agree Beau

our children have a open snack so they can have snack and then wash their hands and go about their buisness. It is still a social time as often two or three children will be sat having snack at the same time. Also this allows the children to choose to have something to eat when they are ready, some children arrive at nursery very early and are ready for a snack early, but if a child doesnt come in until later then they may not be ready to sit down for snack until much later.

jojom x

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I love rolling snack, it has so many more advantages than whole group snack, although that has its place too.

We have 20 children per session and start preparing snack between 945 & 10am; at the moment we have 4 children who ask if they can help get it ready, whereby we duiscuss what they brought, where it came from, was it grown on a tree etc; they have to wash then cut up the fruit for sharing; we cover psrn, kuw, cll, psed......

when the fruit's ready one of the cildren will go around the room & outdoor area to let the other children know snack is ready when they would like some. we have 8 spaces, the children wash their hands, post their name, get a cup & plate then sit down and help themselves to milk or water and fruit/breadsticks/cheese, whatever they've brought in to share.

After a term they are practically self sufficient. some need reminding not to eat all of the grapes or cheese but on the whole they're fab. when they've finished the children put their unwanted bits in the recycling bucket, their dirty cup & plate in the baskets provided. It's very rare for a child to be on their own at the table & if this does happen, an adult will either join them or postion themselves nearby & start a conversation.

 

when the weather's good we put a long table outside & can end up with 12 eating around a table which still works because the children understand the routine.

 

Lunch we're a little stricter; we all sit down together, the children have to ask if they can leave the table & have to play quietly until everyone has finished.

 

Whole group snack used to take at least 25 minutes (quite a bit of a 2 1/2 hour session); everyone queueing for the sinks at the same time, self conscious children feeling scrutinized; staff running around like headless chickens.

 

I'd go for roling snack anytime - our parent helpers & volunteers can manage this easily too, especially as we have the system on a poster on the wall.

 

sorry, went off on one there!

Must go to bed!

Sam :o

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We have a group snack time after we found that most children wouldnt want to go and have there snack until it was to late. It has worked much better and the social interaction between children has improved, they choose what they want to eat and drink and pour there own water. Children can get up when they have finished, clear away the plate and cup and then get a book to read until most children have finished. Weve got about 3 or 4 children who take along time to eat, they not rushed and we try to get them together on one table so others can play.

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We found group time snack works best for us too... we have a lot of little ones and only 3 staff. With rolling snack there was always one member of staff at the toilets hand washing! Plus those older ones that didnt want snack now do! We always have a snack monitor (older child to go round with snack box, each child picks 3 pieces of fruit/veg etc) and then a staff member starts talking...about anything really!! Whereas before there was a lot of snack left now there is nothing! They all stay seating for about 10 mins and then start to wander off when they have finished. Staff have found it a better system in that we are not constantly having to monitor the table and chase children in from coming to snack...they didnt want to leave their activity whereas when they all sit down they dont seem to mind!

 

We know OFSTED prefer the rolling snack but I say so long as we can justify why we do it this way we have to go with whatever way suits the children and the staff.

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We also used to try to get the children to sit until everyone else had finished and were advised by area SENCo and others to use a rolling snack time.

 

However this just didn't work for us, lack of staffing, using up an activity table and some v hungry/greedy children who just wouldn't stop eating. :o

 

Now we are back to the lovely social snack time where the children help to put the table cloths on the table, count that we have the correct number of chairs for the children, wash their hands then give out the snack mats, cups and plates (colour matched).

 

Children can stay for as short or long time as they want and have learnt to say 'can I get down please' or words to that effect and put their things away.

 

It's working at the moment!

 

Rachel

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