Mealtime in our classrooms offers opportunities for meaningful work, concentration, language expression, grace and courtesy.
While each classroom has its own traditions, all of our rooms leverage mealtime to teach valuable life skills. From our elementary program rooms who host classmates from other rooms at lunch and share multicultural luncheons, to the toddlers who are learning how to set up a table properly and hone their eye-hand coordination as they eat, students learn together while they share meals, with a focus on creating a lovely, peaceful environment.
At Fox Valley Montessori School, we provide all the essential tools to help the child be successful; we call this a prepared environment. Our teachers spend time each day preparing the classroom to have all the materials ready that a child will need to help with the task of food preparation, along with readying the many other areas of the classroom. Children are drawn to tasks they see adults do every day, such as meal preparation, and tend to try more foods when they help with preparation. In addition, research shows that family meals have a huge impact on children. Click this link to download an article from the American Montessori Society to learn more about the importance of meal times.
In our Primary classrooms, the children participate by bringing in foods each week using the Sharing Basket. How does the Sharing Basket work? Teachers assemble a list of recommended items, putting thought into the foods they know the children enjoy, and may be seasonal, while modifying where needed for food sensitivities and allergies within the classroom. Families take turns several times a year to bring in food items the classroom needs. They are provided the list of recommended foods, and encouragement to take their child shopping with them to help select the items.
Here’s a few ways that our primary and toddler rooms make Montessori Mealtime special:
1. Students cut and arrange flowers as a weekly work to add vibrance and beauty to the meal tables.
2. A small group of children and an adult work together to prepare the food, slicing and distributing accordingly.
3. Children prepare settings complete with utensils, cloth napkins, and tableware. Sustainability is important in our classrooms.
4. Water pitchers are filled in the morning by students, and they pour into glass cups at mealtimes, practicing eye and hand coordination.
5. Glass dishes are used—even with the youngest children—to teach the importance of practicing careful use of items in daily life.