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I'm interested in how meals are managed with mixed ages of children between 18 months and two yrs in a room...

how do you manage lunch times? Whats the routine?

Do you have children in high chairs...?

do you give pudding immediately one child finishes or wait for all to finish before pudding is served? What happens when a child leaves the table before lunch is finished?...or between courses?....

do staff sit with children...?

What if a child refuses to sit for lunch and just wants to play?

 

lots of questions but I am having a few issues and hoping there's some strategies I can try out to help.

 

 

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Ok,,,this is what we do:

Staff sit with children. At lunch time many staff eat their lunch with the children.

We use "low highchairs" for babies (so like a highchair with a tray and straps but low down at children's table height). We place these chairs at the table too. Toddlers sit in captain's chairs at the table. We try to wait until the majority of children have finished the main course before giving pudding, but there are always some stragglers/slow eaters/ those that need lots of encouragement. An adult will be near these children to help them finish. We expect children to sit at the table to eat and not get down between courses. We find a lot of children are not used to this and eat in front of the TV at home, so it is a bit of a learning process for some. It just takes time and patience and lots of repetition. The same if a child didn't want to come and sit down at a meal time. Their key person would use lots of encouragement/distraction to get them to come and sit at the table and we would say they couldn't have their food until they sat down with everyone else.

 

What sort of problems are you having?

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Ok,,,this is what we do:

Staff sit with children. At lunch time many staff eat their lunch with the children.

We use "low highchairs" for babies (so like a highchair with a tray and straps but low down at children's table height). We place these chairs at the table too. Toddlers sit in captain's chairs at the table. We try to wait until the majority of children have finished the main course before giving pudding, but there are always some stragglers/slow eaters/ those that need lots of encouragement. An adult will be near these children to help them finish. We expect children to sit at the table to eat and not get down between courses. We find a lot of children are not used to this and eat in front of the TV at home, so it is a bit of a learning process for some. It just takes time and patience and lots of repetition. The same if a child didn't want to come and sit down at a meal time. Their key person would use lots of encouragement/distraction to get them to come and sit at the table and we would say they couldn't have their food until they sat down with everyone else.

 

What sort of problems are you having?

Yes, we do similarly. Our very little babies are in 'proper' highchairs, We also have captain's chairs with chest straps for some children to help with the transition to the table. Our staff don't eat with the children, but it's a great time for conversation.

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problems arising mainly when pudding is delayed and this is frequently the case. Children are getting down, getting upset /full on tantruming when brought back to sit down....its making lunch times stressful for all. I have used singing / chatting in between to keep childrens attention and avoid this - it works for some but a few just cant sit at table unless food is physically in front of them...as soon as its not they're up...and then the others copy.

 

Personally I feel its not their fault and they are too young to be waiting around....but I feel like I'm under pressure to make them sit down and its not sitting well with me - toddlers are 'grazers' by nature and nature makes them get up and go!. So I'm extra stressed by trying to meet expectations I don't feel are realistic.

We don't have any in high chairs...but I feel some of the youngest would be better in one.

(Ideally there wouldn't be a delay at all but not much I can do about that)

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Do you know which children are your slow eaters -could they be put together so others can have pudding earlier?

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I would never make children that age wait. We don't make our pre-schooler's wait as they don't at school, so why should children who are so much younger be expected to wait. All our children do have to sit at the table, if they refuse we give them a choice to lay on a bed, as they usually have a sleep after dinner anyway. If they get down straight after dinner we take this as an indication that they have finished and don't want pudding. All our puddings are healthy, which contain very little sugar, therefore we don't feel childern are skipping the healthy bit to move onto the sweet bit, so we give them pudding when they have finished or lost interest in their dinner. We also have a healthy snack morning and afternoon, so it's not like they will be hungry for long! They sit on the 'low high' chairs or small chairs if nearer two, to help them with the transition to the older room. Our staff always sit with the children and can eat a sample to show them how yummy it is.


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