Children are often hurried through routines each day whether it is at home or in an early years setting. Adults tend to feel pressure to move onto the next scheduled activity. Educators are balancing the needs of large groups of children and team members. Regulations add pressure to the daily schedule that ensure children are outdoors for a minimum of two hours, that they have an adequate rest period, that they eat one meal and two snacks each day, and that they engage in learning opportunities through extended periods of play. Add in routines such as diapering, getting dressed, having sunscreen applied, and connecting with family members at arrival or departure times to make the daily schedule even busier.
One significant way to slow down the day is by ensuring ample time is allotted for snacks and meals. Children learn to appreciate meals by slowing down to enjoy the textures, tastes, smells, and conversation around different foods being served. Planting seeds, nurturing outdoor gardens, harvesting food from the garden, baking, and being involved in food preparation offers great learning experiences for children. They will soon understand their connection to the land and how to nourish nature to provide for humans.
The slow food movement that began in the 1980s inspired a move away from fast food to grow a love for learning more about how food moves from the land to the table. Slow food requires time and commitment with rewarding results for health and well-being.
Read the following information about the slow food movement and ways to embed it into education:
“Engaging children in growing some of the food they eat, serving more plant-based foods, or buying locally grown foods can reduce the carbon footprint associated with food production and food transport, while helping children understand their connection with the natural world. Eating organic foods, when feasible, can reduce children’s exposure to pesticides” (CPCHE, 2023).