ECE Services

Healthy eating starts early at Montessori School House

Montessori School House blog photo

Staff at this Hamilton early learning service are excited by improvements in children’s understanding of healthy eating since taking part in the Heart Foundation’s Healthy Heart Award.

By weaving healthy eating into everyday practices and activities, the children are building a positive attitude towards eating these foods.

Teachers used to sing a song with children about bringing chocolate and lollies for morning tea, but after conversations about healthy eating, the children changed the words of the song to watermelon and cheese.This is just one example of how children are now regularly engaged in thinking and reasoning about healthy choices.

Recently teachers set up a shopping activity and children were given the challenge of choosing foods to buy for a picnic. Of all the items chosen, the majority were healthy kai options such as fruit, milk, yoghurt, cucumber, carrot and popcorn.

“We’re proud to be encouraging healthy eaters of the future,” says Centre Manager Kylee Jhaveri.

Collaboration with whānau has been instrumental in creating a heart-healthy environment at Montessori Schools House.

After joining the Healthy Heart Award, regular healthy food suggestions were shared on the parent portal, Storypark. Parents were encouraged to pack ‘naked lunches’ – without any packaged food –to reduce salt and sugar intake as well as packaging waste. Staff have already seen a significant improvement in lunchboxes, children now come to preschool with more wholefoods such as sandwiches, fruit and yoghurt.

Whānau are also included in fun opportunities for children to be physically active such as their centre disco.

“We know active play and exploration is essential for children’s learning which is why we’ve adopted an attitude of ‘green time’ rather than ‘screen time’ and share this with our centre community,” says Kylee. Green time is outdoor activity to replace time in front of screens.

This centre has been supported by Waikato Heart Foundation Nutrition Advisor Kathleen Paris who acknowledged the hard work of the staff. “I love how Montessori School House have shown total commitment in improving the health of their tamariki and have woven healthy eating and physical activity into their everyday practice,” says Kathleen.

“Whānau have many opportunities to be involved such as fun, healthy events at the centre and regular communication on Storypark. “Involving whānau in this journey encourages the incorporation of healthy practices beyond the early learning service and into the home environment.”

Congratulations to Montessori School House on receiving their Pā-Harakeke (gold) Healthy Heart Award from the Heart Foundation.

The Healthy Heart Award programme supports early learning services to create a sustainable environment of healthy eating and physical activity.

 

Find out more about the free Healthy Heart Award