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Milk And Snacks


Guest Cath
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Just wondering what the most common practice for letting children have a snack is in most early years settings. I imagine most people have all children sitting down together (or separate groups if more children/staff) for milk and a biscuit or fruit as this is what I have mostly seen and up until now done myself. However, our LEA foundation stage advisors are very keen on milk bars/continuous provision of milk (I'm repeating here what I've said in another message but that one was tagged at the end of a phonics discussions so sorry if you've read me waffling on twice-I've just got a bee in my bonnet about milk!). So basically, the children in our unit can come and have their milk whenever they please. We do this by having their name on a tag around the milk carton with a picture which corresponds to the picture on their coat peg. Although I think its nice in principle that children can choose when they want to drink (they may prefer not to have a whole carton and finish the rest later) and it allows for continuous provision (ie less interuptions to the day-we already have 5 whole class circles/sessions a day (15 mins each)) in practice its a lot of hard work. We have to make sure that 53 children drink their milk (well I think we should be encouraging them to-maybe there are different views on this?) before lunch (15 of these children go home at this time) and it takes a lot of staff time which surely isn't the point. We have had to re-make/laminate the name tags several times as the 4/5 year olds can cope with putting their tag away before they finish but the 3 year olds, as you can imagine, put theirs, along with the carton, in the bin!

You probably think I'm mad for bothering-especially those of you who haven't given children milk this way before but I have heard of other Nurseries who do this and would be interested to hear what their views/experiences are. We have persevered with it since september as you can't just give up on something Like everything else-children need time and training- but maybe after 9 weeks in school and name tags still disappearing/milk getting left etcetc it could be time to give up??? :o I would really appreaciate any advice/views on the matter. Thanks! :)

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We went round this loop last year Cath. We put magnetic strips on their names which were put ona board, they took them off when they had a drink and posted them into a box. We had to staff it initially (which then tied up a member of staff) because the children just like posting in the box!!

It worked to some degree but when it came to fruit, we felt it wasnt very hygenic as children dont always remember to wash their hands and the area soon got messy. So we thought that if the children sat in a group for fruit, they may as well have their drink as well. We also felt that they were missing out on a sharing together time, where they share out the cups/cartons, pour drinks and practice good manners. We all felt that this time was important social time not to lose. So now we just have the aftenoon juice in a bar style, but we dont start it until after Christmas.

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Hi

 

I don't know if this will be of any help, but thought I'd tell you of a method I saw one nursery (for 2 - 4 year olds) using when I was doing work experience (I'm a student by the way).

 

The nursery had two rooms, linked by a corridor - one with a carpet and one with lino flooring for painting etc... A table and two chairs were put in the room with the lino flooring, cups were lined up on a shelf next to it. 2 plastic jugs, one with water and one with milk were on the table with a biscuit tin and a plate of fruit. The children would come up and sit at the table and help themselves to a drink and a snack whenever they wanted. As the table only had two chairs a third chair was placed next to the table for another child to wait their turn.

 

This nursery had only a maximum of 16 children but to adjust it for more children would mean using a bigger table with more chairs. Admittedly there was alsways an adult in the vacinity that could keep an eye and children were asked at certain times if they'd had their snack, but it seemed to work really well.

 

If you're worried about children taking up a lot of time at the table you could use an egg timer or a simple alarm clock which the children must set when they sit at the table and when the alarm goes off it is time for the next child's turn. Also they could have their names lamenated and set out on the table and they must take it and put it in a bowl or basket when they have had their snack. That way you can monitor who has had one and who has not.

 

As this would be a really different approach it would take a while for the children and the staff to get used to it and for it to work well, but I think the children would appreciate the freedom and responsibility to have their drink and snack when they want and in the end it would make it easier for you. :)

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Thanks for your replies about the milk. It's interesting to hear different points of view. We've finally made a decision today. We're going back to the old way of doing it. The way that nursery you mentioned abbycuk sounded great but that was with 16 children. After xmas we will have 60! That's a lot of monitoring and we decided as a team that it was taking too much staff time and was not hygenic (as well as some children not finishing their milk some were having their own and then going on to somebody elses!). The sand timer is a good idea but only works if children have to actually finish their snack. One of the positive points for a continuous milk bar is that children can return to their milk and as one teacher put it 'graze'!!

Ultimately, every one has different views and every setting is completely different so I suppose we should just do whatever we are happiest with.

I really do agree with Mundina that it a social time and a good way of re-enforcing good manners and sharing. Come Monday morning we will be in 4 groups of 15 and hopefully be a lot less stressed out! We will then give the children free access to water in the afternoons.

Thanks for your replies :o

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  • 1 month later...

Read this with interest. We have water out all day for the children which they can help themselves to. Often they like to play with the water but one goiod way of trying to alleviate the problem of drinking out of each other cups is to provide the disposable conical ones which when they have finished just get put straight into a bowl. As they cannot be left upright the children soon get to know they need to take a clean cup rather than one that has been left.

Nikki

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oooh I just love the discussions in this forum. I am a big beliver in a set snack time. I think it is of huge value for all sorts of goals. Mind you, a lot of our children have a bus journey before arriving so I think it is very important that they have a snack and the only way to really be sure, is to sit them down altogether. We are lucky in that we have 3 separate snack areas so we all snack at the same time. We have a diet policy and practise that we share with Parents, listing the foods we will have over the week. The favourite is toast. Spreading, looking at changes and just enjoying!! We have seasonal fruits so the Unit smells of tangerines! We have hot (warm) chocolate too!!

Chris :o

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Hello All,,

Over the years I have tried many different ways to have snack time. We now gone back to having it in a large group . We have so many fussy eaters now that I do find this encourages them. The children bring a water bottle with their name clearly marked. This goes home each day for the parent to wash it and replenish. They are put near an adult-led activity so the adult can help those that cannot recognise their name. The water bottle is used throughout the morning and at lunch club.

We provide milk or water at snack-time together with fruit or other healthy foods.

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As a childminder, I have water available all day for them to drink as they wish, but a set snack time, when they can choose milk or water.

 

I'd be concerned about hygiene if I had milk drinks hanging about in various stages of use, refridgerated or otherwise.

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  • 1 month later...

I'd agree that water needs to be available throughout the day, as hydration is essential to health and learning, but I'd feel a bit icky about milk hanging around. It brings back too many memories for me of warm milk in my school days - ugh! :o Also being 'encouraged' to drink it, when I often felt sick, and that the children who 'ate up' (ie, 'drunk it up') being praised and favoured. I look back and wonder about the message that we were given about it being 'good' to finish something even if your body told you that you didnt need it?

 

Obviously, if your children come from an area where nourishment is a concern, you might want to be more 'encouraging', but if the children are well nourished, why would we be concerned that they finished up a drink of milk during the session? As long as they take a breather and remember that it is there, if they reject it, I don't see that as being any problem. It's more important that they learn to read their body's cues regarding hunger and thirst, than that they drink their adult allotted 'share' of milk.

 

The fact that some children are always reluctant or slow, while others gulp down their milk and others' too,if they can, shows that we need to maybe rethink our expectation. Some children are big breakfast eaters, some are big dinner eaters, some prefer grazing, some get a substantial amount of their protein from milk products, some from nuts or beans or meat. Maybe a chat with the reluctant drinkers' parents about whether they really care about their children consistently drinking the milk would help? I know that neither of my children drink cows milk, and I'm quite happy about that. I prefer them not to get into drinking cow's milk as a habit, for lots of reasons. They get their nutrition from other sources and my concern for them in preschool would be purely that snack time should be pleasurable and promote social skills. Other settings may be more concerned about fruit and exposing children to different tastes. (Of course, for some children, the provision of milk is important for the nutrition, which needs to be a priority, so each setting/child needs to be considered in its own context)

 

I'm just trying to look at the issue from different angles, and hope this helps! If not, just ignore me....... xD

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Hi everyone.

 

Oh the milk bar issue. Lots of groups in my area aer debating about this problem, and it seems the advisory teachers in our area are hot on it as well.

 

In September we changed from all sitting at tables for milk and snack to having a small table for 4 children (all we can manage in my setting). They help themselves to a snack and pour their milk or water from jugs left on the table. This system operates for 45 minutes in the morning during the free play session. The children love it because they can come early, late or whenever they want to.

 

We do ask them to go to the toilet and wash hands first, and then find their name from a board, put it in a tray and then sit down. Now it is working fine we don't have one member of staff tied up looking after it, we all keep an eye on it. Anyway, when the jugs are empty or the plate is empty the children soon tell us and someone refills it. I have to say that it is one of the best things we have done and it makes everything more relaxed. I would recommended everyone trying it. If it doesn't work then go back to your old system.

 

And no, the children don't spill their drinks (not more than previously) and they don't gorge themselves on whatever snack is out.

 

Mobbster

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Hi Dianne

 

My children are from 2 years 9 months through to school age.

 

We also have a water cooler for the children to use if neceesary. We did a deal with a local supplier who has rented the cooler to us free of charge. All we have to do is pay for the bottles, and that is at a reduced amount.

 

Not only is it good for the children, but last summer the staff were using it a lot as well. It is healthy for everyone, and accreditation and Ofsted people like it to.

 

Mobbster

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  • 3 months later...

Oh dear, after much inner debate I had decided to switch to the cafe style snack/milk for our nursery but i'm having doubts again. We have a children in our nursery who at sit at 4 tables having snack and milk together. This, in my opinion reinforces social and speaking and listening skills. But having reduced the number of tables availabe- adults seem to always sit around table activities rather than move to the carpeted area- on the floor, I'm wondering how to manage my snack sessions. We will give the cafe system a try and revert back to the old style if its a DISASTER. :o

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Priya when the planning is done for my pre-school I plan for one member of staff to manage the snack table. Other staff members are managing other activities. If I have a problem with a staff member that cannot stay focussed I ask them if they think the children are bored with the activity or I give them the group list which consists of the learning goal I am targetting on that activity.I ask them to give each child an equal opportunity to access the activity.They mark off each childs ability with an A.B.or C. I stress the importance of this as it forms part of my planning.I find it very irratating if staff are chatting about non-relevant things.

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Hi all! :)

 

Interesting discussion. When I was in a pre-school we swapped from set snack-time to milk bar system as we felt necessary, depending on children currently attending. It did not seem too much of a problem, although personally I favour snack bar.

 

Now I'm in DN we have snack bar during AM and PM free-play sessions. The children love it, especially helping the 'littlies' when they move into the Unit. They get plenty of 'social' and 'sharing' time at normal meal times, which I admit is a 'perk' (if you like! ) of being in a DN.

 

Children's independence is greatly enhanced, with self esteem assisted by the 'big helper' idea.

 

Sue :D

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We have water and fruit/broken biscuits available throughout the session and find the children will willingly help themselves. Helps not single out the child who has not had breakfast too! We put out a little sign saying '2' or '3' etc depending on what is available to snack on and the children can help themselves to that number of items - really good way of introducing number symbols and written number! Good for children who graze too - we wouldn't stop children visiting table more than once but once the fruits all gone then we can't always replenish it. Keyworker Groups take turns in bringing bringing in fruit/veg for the week. Great incentive to taste and encourage others too. We then have a formal snacktime in our Keyworker Groups later in the morning (groups averaging about 6 children). This time allows for informal recall of the Plan/Do that's gone on earlier in the session and helps us focus on our more formal keyworker task. The children gel as a group, discuss whats gone on before and what they're going to do next which is great. They model to one another, good listening skills, model eating/drinking familiar and less familiar foods (ideal for my fussy eater!). Its a very valuable time. Maybe having one self-service snack bar and one more formal time is the way forward for those of you struggling???

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Hi

we have water available at all times.

But have fruit/milk time altogether.

Ofsted and accreidation both commented on what a lovely social time this was intermingled with questions and extension questions from staff members who sat with the children chatting. :D

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Just an update- have implemented the free snackbar/cafe sysytem

 

Snack bar a success right now. Children still need to be reminded about it but the level of snack time interaction has reduced. ie. children drinking and eating very quietly. Also other children playing in the room is a distraction to some and we have those who either don't finish their snack or milk or walk away with it in their hand/mouth. xD

 

Whole class snack time meant whole class tidy up before handwashing and snack. We will have to establish new tidy up routines now.

 

But still, not the disaster I thought it would be :o

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Up to this time last year we too had snack time all together at 11.15 ish and had to clear majority of room in order to do so. It was a very stressful, noisy, chaotic time all round!!! We weren't sure about cafeteria-style snacks but gave it a go. It has proved to be very successful and has become a far more relaxed, sociable pastime. We are lucky to have a very good parent rota system whereby parent helper quite often helps out with this. We run it mainly between 10 and 11. We do of course have water available throughout the entire morning! :D

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We have snack together (only 10 children so not difficult) but the children are supposed to be able to chose what they would like to eat. A couple of the mums insist on putting it all on individual plates which they plonk in front of the children. :( This happened yet again today and I had to point out (very nicely) that snack should be brought out on large plates and put in the centre of the table so that the children can help themselves. The mother looked horrified :o - I can just imagine the look on her face if I went over to a 'snack bar'!! xD:(

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Very interesting reading! In my nursery class (39chn + me and 2 nneb's )we got rid of "snack time" as we felt we interrupted the children with it quite often when they had really got into something good. We now put out the fruit (we get fruit daily through the free fruit for schools scheme)and the milk cartons on trays. Some goes outside too and children are told it is there. If they want it they come and get it. They can eat it where they are working indoors or out or sit on the mat if they prefer.I've stopped worrying about whether they have any or not. They're full time so they get dinner too! Some children have extra some days and not on others. After about half an hour the milk + fruit go back to the kitchen but if children ask they can have another if there are spares. We also have water out all day, they have a cup with their name on and do enjoy finding their own. They get washed at the end of each day. The children wait for each other and take turns to get their milk just as much as when we had to all have it at the same time!

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Hi Catma

Just want to take this chance to welcome you to the site and thank you for your first post. Its interesting to see the many ways we all tackle "snack" and why we do it in that particular way. It seems we all feel it is worthwhile though!

Linda

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Catma - welcome, you'll like this site!

 

There's certainly some variety with the old snack! We have a few problems with each new input from the Toddler Unit, where they are used to a formal 'snacktime', but our older children soon get them organised! We have a kind of 'mini mentoring' system so the older chn help the younger ones settle. It's really effective and helps us, too! :o

 

Sue :D

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Beau,

We have a water cup with names on, too. They are laminated labels which are attached by a rubber band, stored in a marked plastic box for children to find their own each day. They often help each other here, too :)

 

Sue :D

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I am still hitting my head against a brick wall over snack-time in our setting.

 

We have a maximum of 26 children (sometimes 28, or more, oh yes - see my posts on numbers of children). They sit at 3-4 tables. They have their drink, and the child(ren) on the "biscuit rota" offer/s the biscuit tin, from which each child is allowed to take either a custard cream or a digestive biscuit.

 

I have made a small hole in the brick wall after repeatedly badgering the leader and supervisor (including copying OFSTED reports off the NET): children are now allowed to pour their own drinks. Whoopee!!

 

Unfortunately, we only have 3 jugs (one for milk, one for water and one for squash)!!!! So the 3 jugs have to do the rounds of the tables. The poor children on the last table are sitting (sometimes patiently, mostly not, understandably) waiting and waiting and waiting...... I keep on suggesting that 3 jugs per table would be a better arrangement. I have reached the concrete-reinforced section of the wall.

 

Healthy snacks? Well, I have tried, honestly. Once a half term (approximately) there may be carrots/apples/orange segments. Oh, but, wait a minute, the children have to have their custard cream or digestive first!!!

 

On this whole subject I will just have to keep chiselling away. It is lucky my head is hard!

 

Incidentally, the leader has a rule: if a child has had milk, he/she is not allowed a drink of squash (or vice versa), "because the milk will curdle in his/her tummy". I have tried, very diplomatically, to explain that the acids in the stomach will "curdle" the milk and that this is an important part of digesting the milk, so curdling is not a health hazard. The leader, however, questions this medical logic, and sticks to her rule (one sip of milk/squash, and the other drink is immediately forbidden). Maybe that's the reason for the setting's aversion to healthy snacks such as fruit? However, on the rare occasions that fruit is provided, the milk drinkers are allowed the fruit! I am having trouble with this "leader logic". I am facetious, but should the children really be allowed to choose a "custard cream" biscuit if their chosen drink is orange squash (CURDLE ALERT!!!!). Perhaps I will suggest that the squash drinkers should only be allowed to eat fruit (worth thinking about, he, he).

 

Diane.

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Diane,

 

You're priceless!! xD:(

 

Seriously though I'm surprised at any group still offering children biscuits at snack time on a regualr basis. In Scotland, with obesity in children becoming an increasing problem (and that wasn't meant to be a pun! :D ), biscuits are a big no no. We also have a strict milk or water policy - no squash.

 

Curdling!! I have heard that old wives tale - my mother-in-law believes it too. :D She's almost 85 though - how old is your leader??? :o:(

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Names on our cups (6 for hardly anything at IKEA) are written with indelible pen. It stays on fairly well. The children are in 4 colour groups relating to when they will go up and the cups match their group so they know where to look for their name. Can't say they always drink out of the right cup but then sometiimes they drink the water in the water tray with no discernable ill effects!!!

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