nutritional guidance for early years: food choices for children aged 1-5 years in early education and childcare settings

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nutritional guidance for early years: food choices for children aged 1-5 years in early education and childcare settings

4 implementation, monitoring and evaluation

4.1 Involving parents and guardians

Building partnerships between early years staff and carers, parents and guardians is important. This could include:

  • Early engagement with parents/guardians about individual needs which may impact on food choices and intake during induction.
  • Regular informal contact to let them know what food has been eaten and if their child has eaten well.
  • Involving parents/guardians in developing and updating your policy (see section 4.2) on food and health. This lets parents/guardians know about your commitment to providing healthy, varied and enjoyable food as part of childcare. It lets them know what to expect and asks for their contribution.
  • Making menus available to parents in advance so they can see what the child will receive that day and plan other food in the day accordingly.
  • Giving parents/guardians notice of changes to meals and food provision, allowing them to comment on menus.
  • Inviting parents to share special recipes with you.

4.2 Developing a food and nutrition policy

The recommendations and advice on food and nutrition should be understood and accepted by the staff, carers, parents/guardians of the children. The best way to achieve this is to write down what the staff and carers aim to do with regard to foods and drinks in the nursery/home setting. This helps by allowing everyone a chance to agree the ideas, to add or change what is decided and it can be given out to new parents as information on the approach of the nursery to healthy eating. This written information (or policy) can then be updated as new information develops over time.

Here are some ideas of the sort of information you may wish to consider in developing a policy:

Who should see the policy? How will it be communicated to them?

New parents and guardians, new staff, carers and caterers . . .

Ongoing . . .

You may decide to give a copy of the policy out at the beginning of each year to new recruits.

The policy may contain a copy of the menu cycle, thereafter weekly menus may be displayed on a notice board.

Changes to the policy could also be posted.

What are you going to say about developing good eating habits?

Staff and carers . . .

Will encourage children to enjoy sitting and eating and drinking with others, helping others with obtaining their food and drink (e.g. at snack time pouring the drinks).

Children will not be expected to finish everything on their plate and will be allowed seconds of fruits, bread or milk if still hungry.

What will you do if a child does not eat?

If a child does not like the food . . .

If it is a continuing problem . . .

Children who do not eat the food will be offered an alternative that they may accept e.g. milk- based dessert, fruit, cheese and biscuits.

Regular informal contact with parents will let them know how their child has been eating and make them aware of any difficulties.

What types of drinks will you provide to the children?

Throughout the day . . .

At snack and meal times . . .

Cool water will be available to children throughout the day.

Offer fresh orange juice diluted with water at breakfast and milk and water with snacks and meals.

What advice will you give to parents about bringing food into the nursery?

Bringing sweets and chocolates into the nursery . . .

Sweets and chocolates are not given to children on a regular daily basis. We ask parents not to give children sweets or chocolates to bring into the nursery. For special celebrations this may be an exception when the nursery may provide these.

4.3 Training

Effective early education and childcare requires a well-qualified workforce, all of whom should be appropriately trained. 13 Early years staff and carers have a significant role to play in helping children develop an appreciation for a wide range of foods and encourage active play.

Staff in management roles should consider how the guidelines can inform nursery curriculum development, planning and monitoring and links to the National Care Standards.

Appropriate training needs to be available to support the implementation of these guidelines. Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQ) and the Higher National Certificate (HNC) in Childcare and Education provide training opportunities for early years staff. Nutrition and healthy eating should become an integral part of those qualifications within the relevant units. Other qualifications for those caring for the pre-5s should contain an appropriate section on nutrition and healthy eating.

Staff development opportunities should provide access to in-service training. This will enable staff to develop a knowledge and understanding of nutritional needs of pre-5 children and how the guidelines can be applied practically in their setting.

Catering staff will require the knowledge and skills for planning, procurement and preparation of food to meet the nutritional guidelines and to fulfil the requirements of the National Care Standards.

4.4 Monitoring and Evaluation

The Scottish Executive hopes that providers of childcare and pre-school education will find the guidance helpful in providing nutritious food in their establishments. To ensure that this is the case, and that the guidance is meeting the needs of everyone concerned, evaluation and monitoring of the implementation of the guidance will need to be undertaken. Further work on the most appropriate way to develop an evaluation process will take place in 2005.