Spotlight on…Gemma Paterson and Ashley Cupples

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Early years pedagogues, Bowhouse Nursery and Nethermains Nursery, Falkirk

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Gemma Paterson and Ashley Cupples

HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED WITH THE PILOT OF MARVELLOUS MEALTIMES?

AC: The Scottish Government created our roles to help meet the increased offer of 1,140 hours of childcare a year. When we both identified problems with mealtimes in our settings, we were allocated time to work together to come up with a solution.

GP: We had at least 40 children eating lunch in our school hall while PE was happening on the other side of shutters. Children had 30 minutes to eat two courses while dealing with an unfamiliar, noisy environment. We knew this had to change.

WHAT DOES MARVELLOUS MEALTIMES INVOLVE?

GP: Children self-serve and choose when to come to lunch over a 90-minute period. This all takes place within our familiar early learning and childcare environment where children feel most comfortable.

AC: Children were having to come to lunch even when they weren’t hungry. They might have only just finished their snacks and they would get really upset. Now they can self-regulate, and are much happier.

ARE THERE PLANS TO DEVELOP THE INITIATIVE?

AC: We have been given budget to create a larder stock. At the moment meals come from the kitchen, but this will allow children to develop their menus.

GP: Some children simply do not like certain foods or prefer lighter options at lunch. By implementing the larder approach we are ensuring inclusion for all.

HOW HAS IT BENEFITTED YOUR SETTINGS?

GP: Children’s eating patterns have improved considerably. Children are independent while following an embedded routine, and are able to work with others as they prepare foods, decide menus and shop for ingredients.

HAS THE IDEA BEEN TAKEN UP MORE WIDELY?

GP: The Scottish Government has recently published a Marvellous Mealtimes case study based on our work, and we are now supporting current and future 1,140 settings with implementing Marvellous Mealtimes.

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