We have all heard the expression “You are what you eat”. In others words, if we eat unhealthy, we will be unhealthy. Junk in results in junk out. This is of particular concern to educators of young children who see firsthand the adverse effects of a poor diet. The effects manifest themselves in sugar infused hyperactivity, inability to focus, poor muscle control and tone, obesity, mood swings and unnatural fatigue after the sugar high.
As Montessori educators, we see the connectivity of all areas of development weighing each one with equal importance. We provide environments that nurture the whole child: academically, emotionally, spiritually and physically. The environments are carefully prepared to meet the needs of the children we serve in order to support their development to its fullest potential.
Part of the prepared environment is considered when it comes to food and its nutritional value. The children prepare and help themselves to healthy snacks that follow a menu we prepare. The children are much more likely to try something they have made for themselves rather than be given something that is already prepared. There is a certain sense of pride and accomplishment in the preparation of food that compels them to eat it. I have seen little ones eat broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage they most likely would not have enjoyed if not involved in the process of preparation.
We have spoken with the children about good food choices to fuel the body and we have asked them to share what we discussed with all of you. In order to build a strong partnership between home and school, we cannot have mutually exclusive standards for our children. We ask that you make a meal and snack menu at home filled with choices of nutritional foods you can enjoy with them. If you limit the choices for meals to healthy food, they will still feel part of the process (which feeds their desire to be in control) while benefiting from the nourishment.
If you need more suggestions on how to go about encouraging healthy eating and preparing your environment, join us for our next parent education class entitled Montessori at Home.
The education of even a very small child, therefore, does not aim at preparing him for school, but for life.
—Maria Montessori, Discovery of the Child (1948)