An appetite for progressive mealtimes

By Alex Sutherland

Mealtimes are an important part of the children’s daily rhythm at Hamilton Child Care Centre (HCCC) – nourishing them with the energy to play, learn, and grow. At HCCC, we host ‘progressive’ mealtimes. These are flexible and child-led scheduled timeframes that allow children to eat when they are ready, rather than at a set mealtime. We offer progressive mealtimes because they afford our children the agency to make their own decisions and choices and continue engaging in their play without any interruption.

“Agency may be the one most important factor in human happiness and well-being. We all like to feel that we are in charge of our own destiny. The same thing goes for our kids”

– Wiliam Stixrud

Progressive mealtimes expand learning opportunities beyond set activities. Every day, our children are encouraged to be active participants in mealtime preparation. For example, preparing food or counting the number of cups needed (emerging numeracy skills); and listening to and following instructions (emerging literacy skills). For some children, mealtime is also an important way to measure time (emerging numeracy skills). Moreover, during the mealtime, children participate in social interactions; regular conversations about food, healthy eating, and bodily needs; and have opportunity to serve themselves (self-help skills). More benefits can be found below:

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