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  • Writer's picture Sally Rustomji

Early Table Manners

In all the rooms at The Old School House Nursery, table manners are encouraged. The Nest are our youngest children and early table manners here are their first steps! Meal times is an important routine for our Nest children, important in building routines by setting rules and boundaries. Teaching table manners helps children enjoy their food, interact with the people around them, try new foods and help them to become polite and courteous in later life.

Promoting Early Table Manners

Daily routines give children a repetition of routine, making it easier to learn. Doing the same thing every day helps their understanding of learning how to be polite and how to participate.

In the Nursery, there is a list of things we do to promote manners and some things you can do at home that might help too!

  • The children eat at the same time, doing the same meal time routine daily to practise repetition. We even have story time routinely before lunchtime which helps relax children and notify them mealtime is coming. Try setting a routine at home. Make mealtimes important and keep it short and achievable.

  • The staff sit with the children to promote independence and the feeling of “wanting to be at the table.” Try sitting with your child whilst they are eating and ensure meals are kept at the table and not whilst walkabout.

  • The older children sit at the table with their peers to encourage social interaction with an adult at each table so they can be helped if they need it.

  • The staff encourage patient waiting whilst the children take turns to receive their food. Highlight the importance of patience. Sit them down first before serving their food ready.

  • The staff will start the meal feeding the children first. They role model by using the cutlery so the children can attempt themselves after. Try to feed your child first using the cutlery so they know how to and want to attempt themself after. Don’t force them if they start to use their hand after a while, this is expected for a 1-2 year old. Over the age of 2 we would encourage cutlery is used.

  • In the Bumbles and Ladybirds we have helpers who serve out the food – Your child would love helping set the table at home.

  • The staff encourage children to try all foods and give positive praise when they do but we do not offer rewards. Positive reinforcement and praise helps children feel encouraged. Use open ended questions such as “What food are you going to try next?” and positive phrases like “Well done for trying your vegetables.”

Trying New Foods

At The Old School House Nursery, our menu is very varied and an exciting range of food is offered to our children. Go bold and creative with the choices you give your child, even if you think it’s unsuitable, you could be surprised! If they is something they really love do tell us!

It’s also very important to not give them something different to what the adults at the table are having. Children will be less inclined to eat their food if it’s different to yours.

When trying new foods, make sure the food at least touches the child’s lips! Be patient and calm and don’t give up!

Good Table Manners are encouraged as part of our nursery values.

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