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Food preparation plays an important role in Infant Community! Children not only prepare their own snacks, but they also take a major role in getting lunch on the table!
Each morning, two children have the opportunity to prepare the vegetables that will be served for lunch. Preparing starts with children getting to select vegetables from the fridge. After putting on aprons and getting their workstations set up, they cut the vegetables and place them in a bowl. A teacher then walks with them as they push our food cart to the kitchen, where our chefs cook their lunch.
At the end of the morning work period, all children work together to get the tables ready for lunch. They put together two smaller tables with tablecloths and chairs to form a larger lunch table. A child will then count out the plates, and carefully carry one-by-one to the table. Another child will count out (in Chinese or Japanese) forks, glasses, and napkins.
Before eating, children wash their hands and get seated while the two food prep helpers march off to the kitchen, ask our cook (in Chinese!) for their food, and push the cart back to the classroom.
The lunch ritual then starts with pre-lunch words or a short song in both Japanese and Chinese. A teacher presents the food and drinks with the name of each item. A teacher pours water into small individual pitchers by each child’s plate and the child then pours the water into their glass. Then, the toddlers serve themselves from small bowls and share with their peers before eating. They stay seated, eating civilly, for 15 or 20 minutes!
Parents often ask how toddlers can do all of this. The answer is a carefully prepared environment, where nothing is left to accident. The food is offered in bite-sized pieces served on plates. There is plenty of time and clear, consistent expectations for each child’s behavior, as well as peer role modeling.
As a result, toddlers are able to enjoy nourishing foods, build memories and a community, and share a meal with friends.
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