Home schooling seems to be a hot topic lately. With a lot of parents finding themselves faced with this challenge, we’ve put together a few ideas on how to teach nutrition at home- outside of eating meals together. Here are some suggestions from Dole Food Company’s Registered Dietitian, Melanie Marcus.
· Morning and Evening Bathroom Routine – Start by washing hands and explain that this is a way of washing away germs to stay healthy! This is especially important if children still eat with their hands. Also explain why we brush teeth by reminding children that foods we eat can get stuck in our teeth causing cavities in the future!
· Snack Time – Sometimes it feels like kids can snack all day long on easy-to-grab, crackers, chips or cookies. Next time they grab for one of those, try incorporating a taste test or Food critic activity to encourage something different. With culinary shows like Top Chef Kids and Kids Baking Championship becoming more and more popular on TV, this is a fun way for kids in your house to feel “in charge”, express their opinions and more importantly, try a new food!
· Playtime – Many households have a play kitchen or some kind of play food. Use this as an opportunity to pretend and act out how to do things like – make a salad, pop popcorn, set the table, peel banana, wash dishes. This helps very young children become more independent, learn what to expect and become little helpers when it comes to family meals!
· Sensory Activity – One idea that can work for school and at home is to make a sensory box. A tissue box works well for this. Simply place a fruit or two inside the box and have children put their hand inside and try to guess which fruit it is by feeling it! Experiment with unusual shapes or skins such as bananas or kiwi.
· Around the Kitchen – If you’re busy preparing a meal it could be a good time to teach children of reading age how to review a recipe! Evaluating ingredients to learn how food transforms from raw to cooked is a great way for kids to learn cookery skills, but also this helps them become more willing to try it! Children can also learn about portion sizes and test math skills if a recipe needs to be made for a larger group. Two of our favorite kid and pantry friendly recipes include Banana Peanut Spread and Banana Breakfast Sandwiches!
· Dinner – Get kids involved in making dinner by setting the rule that each food group must be represented! Give them a warmup activity by asking them which food groups are found in family favorites like chicken soup, lasagna or meatloaf. Asking kids to guess which ingredients are used in these dishes and identifying which food group they belong to will help them understand food groups and balance.
· Reading time – From children’s books like The Very Hungry Caterpillar to Eat Your Colors to Little Chef and Who Eats What, there are plenty of books to choose from that reinforce healthy eating habits. Exposing children to fruits and vegetables out of the kitchen is a subtle way to show that fruits and vegetables are part of everyday life and this is what we do!
Published April 2020