One of the main reasons for having a family-style snack is that it builds community. Taking the time to sit down together provides opportunities for children to get to know each other and build relationships with each other as well as the adults in the classroom.
Building social skills is important at this age, because social relationships and interactions provide context for achieving many developmental milestones, such as language skills and self-regulation.
In addition, the routines employed during a family-style snack provides context for practicing important developmental skills. Taking turns and waiting are required when passing out dishes and serving snack. Pouring and using a spoon and tongs to serve themselves helps children develop fine motor skills. Practicing these skills regularly is beneficial for all children.
Another important aspect of snack is that teachers do not require children to eat everything that is available. Children can choose what they want to eat and drink, and they can decide whether they want to try a food that is new to them. Some children are open to trying a lot of new foods, but others are not. Teachers respect children’s preferences and decisions so that they develop a positive relationship with food, as well as practicing the skill of listening to what their bodies need.
Let’s eat together!
By Pam Miller