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Snack time - rolling snack and queuing up


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I'm thinking about snack before we go back for the Autumn term as I'm not happy with the way our rolling snack was implemented by some staff by the end of the year...

 

We have 28 children in a session, 2 year olds to 4 year olds (though they're all 2 or 3 when we start back in Sept) with a mixture of old children and new children.

 

We have a rolling snack that's prepared by a staff member in the kitchen to comply with food hygiene regs, then brought out to the playroom for the children to self serve (pour own drink from little jugs or water or milk, spread soft cheese on rice cake, etc)

 

The table for children to eat at is near the kitchen and the bathroom so children can wash their own hands and fits up to 6 children at a time so they're not too cramped.

 

When some staff, including me, do snack, if we have other children come over wanting snack when the table is full or will be by the time some have got back from washing hands, we say "There's no room at the table yet, go and play and I'll call you next."

 

Other staff send the children to wash their hands and then have them lining up to wait. This means they can have 6 children sitting eating and another 6 wriggling round waiting, trying to grab food off the table, being in the way of the children trying to get up and wash their plates, etc.

 

I don't like that! The staff member spends her time saying "Wait in the line Bella!" "Jacob, you can't take Edward's snack." "Carlisle, your hands have been on the floor, go and wash them again."

 

And not saying "Esme, good spreading your soft cheese! You did it all by yourself today!" "Alice, can you open your yoghurt?" "Emmett, I like the way you helped Alice open her yoghurt." "Rosalie, are you trying apple today?"

 

Now, I was going to say to the staff "Stop the queuing! It's not a bus or a line in the bank. Tell them to go and do something else and you'll call them next, so they'll be making better use of their time with us! Promote good self help and table manners with the children actually having snack!"

 

My deputy pointed out this wasn't the most tactful way to put it ;) and suggested I post on here to ask what other settings do and get a consensus from our peers about whether expecting 2 year olds to queue up is a good idea or not.

 

Then I can say "I've been finding out what other settings do, and think we need to stop asking the children to line up so much. We've got new names for snack registration and are using the box that Renesmee made us last term for the children to post their name cards in. I think it will be better for the children and for us if we say 'There are 6 spaces at the table and 1,2,3,4,5,6 children already there. Can you go and work with the sand for a little longer and I'll call you when there is a space?' I think we should start the term like that and then discuss it before half term, what do you think?"

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I'm in agreement with you! We don't have queuing. To me, it's a waste of children's time and half the point of having self-service snack is so that children don't have to wait while we wash 26 pairs of hands, give out 26 cups etc. etc. So if they're queuing/waiting, it defeats the object in my opinion. We do have to ask children to come back in a little while (or an adult will tell them when there is a space) especially when snack is first open. There are always children who want a snack straight away so some have to wait - we only have room for four at the table!

 

I think as long as you have your reasons and are positive and polite, you don't have to be particularly tactful - just state your case!

 

Good luck!

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Hi, we are very much the same in set up for a rolling snack. I think flexibility is key to making it a success. We have a few chairs set up ready near to the snack area and give the children a choice, they can sit and wait or go and play. I think that learning to wait a little is one of those life skills that we all have to learn, also the ability to make choices (with consequences albeit very simple ones). We bought a larger snack table recently so that we could sit more children at a time, but are flexible with this. This means that we might start with fewer children around the table who need more support and then add a chair or two later for those older or more independent children. Staff are flexible with deployment too, so if the snack area is busy then staff can join the waiting children, perhaps with a book or activity or just the opportunity for a lovely chat. We are flexible for when we open the doors for free flow play as well, so that can be a good distraction. We are also going to role play the routines for the new starters, perhaps using baby dolls in the home corner to model snack time, getting ready to play outside etc.

Of course with a new cohort of children (mainly 2 year olds) we will be expecting these times to be a little chaotic at first and will adapt as we get to know each other.

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Could you use a board and a basket with printed photos of the children in at the side of the snack table - children pop along and put their photo on the board to show that they would like their snack next - go off to play and staff member holds up their photo to call them over? The photos forming an order line rather than the children themselves - also everyone is then clear what the process is and can concentrate on the children at the table and it will be visual for the newbies!!

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now to play devils advocate here!.....why can't you make more room for the children who want to eat? surely the idea of rolling snack is that they chose when they want to have it? we also have the same size of setting (well 30) but the table has room for 8 at least and we'll add more if we need to ...it isn't supervised all the time though (by which I mean that I don't have a member of staff sitting there!)

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now to play devils advocate here!.....why can't you make more room for the children who want to eat? surely the idea of rolling snack is that they chose when they want to have it? we also have the same size of setting (well 30) but the table has room for 8 at least and we'll add more if we need to ...it isn't supervised all the time though (by which I mean that I don't have a member of staff sitting there!)

 

Thank you finleysmaid, you've really made me reflect on our snack ideas and practices - and I think part of the problem is that they're not consistent...

 

Some staff do have more chairs at the table or use 2 tables - I prefer 4 children at the snack table at a time for being able to make sure they've all been able to serve themselves (rather than having been served by a staff member which I've also seen - I don't mean helping little Lisa take her cup to the table while she carries her plate or holding the jug with Maggie so the milk goes in her cup not on the floor, but putting breadsticks on Bart's plate), so 6 is a compromised increase, and some fit 8 round the table - but they're not the ones saying 'line up'.

 

We have a member of staff sitting there the whole time to promote speech and language with the children - 90% of our children have English as their Second or other language, so really need someone helping them learn that milk is the same as mleko or water is the same as agua, etc as well as the self help skills of feeding themselves - some of our parents are amazed to see photos of their children feeding themselves as at home they are fed everything. Conversely, some of our families always serve food 'family style' - with the large plate or bowl on the table, for everyone to serve themselves from - and those children are the ones that struggle at first with leaving anything for the children who haven't had snack yet!

 

I feel if Patty and Selma always want snack first, we should let them know we're about to serve snack so they can be the first ones there.

 

Reflecting on it more as I'm answering you, that's what the staff who don't end up with a queue do, find the children they know will want snack first and say "I'm now getting snack ready - can you wash your hands and put the cups on the table?" or ask children individually "Marge, do you want snack?" (showing what we've got today)

 

The ones who end up with the queue tell the children collectively "Go and wash your hands! Snack time!"

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we use 'snack mats' - the children make their own mat at the beginning of term, we had a photo of them and then laminate. We also write on them if the child has an allergy or doesn't eat a particular item - we find a few of the younger ones pile their plates with everything available even if they don't eat it - it just saves a bit on wastage.

The mats are put on the table with the snack - the children put their mat down by a seat to 'save' their place and then go and wash their hands. When they have finished they replace their mat in the box.

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we use 'snack mats' - the children make their own mat at the beginning of term, we had a photo of them and then laminate. We also write on them if the child has an allergy or doesn't eat a particular item - we find a few of the younger ones pile their plates with everything available even if they don't eat it - it just saves a bit on wastage.

The mats are put on the table with the snack - the children put their mat down by a seat to 'save' their place and then go and wash their hands. When they have finished they replace their mat in the box.

 

Younger son had a snack mat at his preschool and I like the idea of writing allergies/intolerances on them.

 

How do Environmental Health feel about them though? When they first visited us, we were using plastic cups and plates/bowls which we washed up in hot soapy water in the kitchen after the children have washed them up in the playroom in warm soapy water. They insisted we get a dishwasher and until then, rinsed the plates etc with boiling water - luckily for us we have an urn for the large amounts we needed!

 

We've now changed to china mugs, bowls & plates as our deputy went on a 2's are special course and they were talking about how the heavier mugs with handles make it easier for the younger children to fill and not knock over and we certainly have had less spillages since we've changed over. Plus as they're all white, there's no arguments of "But I wanted the green plate!" ;)

 

http://eyfs.info/forums/topic/44426-snack-time/page-2?hl=snack

Ive posted before about how we set ours up if its any help. No adult at the table as I believe the children chat more when we're not there!

 

I did see your photos in that thread when I was looking through to see if anyone else had posted with my problem and that looks great!

 

I can see it would have worked with our children over the summer term when they knew what to do and that they had to serve themselves, but I think our 2 year olds would struggle if we left them to do it all by themselves when they start :lol: ! How long does it take your 2 year olds to learn what to do? I'm posting from home so can't upload photos of our snack table as they're all on the work computer, but will try to add some next time I'm in.

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I did see your photos in that thread when I was looking through to see if anyone else had posted with my problem and that looks great!

 

I can see it would have worked with our children over the summer term when they knew what to do and that they had to serve themselves, but I think our 2 year olds would struggle if we left them to do it all by themselves when they start :lol: ! How long does it take your 2 year olds to learn what to do? I'm posting from home so can't upload photos of our snack table as they're all on the work computer, but will try to add some next time I'm in.

our youngest are two and a half but have no issues with it. Yes we do get the odd spillage but that's hardly an issue (to be honest it is often the older more confident ones who knock things over when they get too cocky!) we have lots of children with additional needs and additional languages and they pick up the idea quickly. I guess because we have one family classroom the older ones teach the littlies....I rarely have to teach the new ones how to do it! I do support the pouring at the beginning of term by ensuring we have lots of water play out so they can practise.

Edited by finleysmaid
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It's funny how different we all are ::1a - I was talking to my 3 year old niece earlier about her preschool and her preschool teachers pour the drink milk (she was very clear that she prefers milk to the water that is also offered lol!) and put the cheese spread on their crackers, but when her elder brother was at a different setting (at the other side of town before they moved house), the children spread their own cheese spread and poured their own drinks.

 

Our youngest children are 24 months, so I think they would struggle at serving their own snack without a member of staff to support them at first.

 

I know what you are saying about the older children helping the younger ones - I know Elena will help her youngest brother Constantin to serve his snack, just as her big sister Ioana helped Elena when she was new last year and their elder brother Alexandru helped Ioana when she was new. (I also know that Elena will need us to help Constantin learn that at preschool, he can't grab the food off Elena's plate when he wants more of something, but can have more from the serving bowls...)

 

But think that till we've got all the staff supporting the children have a snack experience that helps the self help and independence skills, we're not ready to serve it and leave the children to access it independently :(

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