Making Meals Into Learning Opportunities

I could spend hours (and, actually, I have) writing about the importance of eating together as a family, what it teaches our kids, etc. etc., but I stumbled upon something else today about regarding the rituals of mealtime and other learning opportunities that a meal can offer.

You see, today my husband and I had our semi-annual parent-teacher conference at my daughter’s daycare. Yes, she’s only 3 years old, but it’s important to know if she’s progressing along with her peers in areas such as crayon-holding, ball-kicking, sentence-speaking and so on. Among the list of things in her developmental profile is how well she can recite the days of the week. Like most kids her age, she knows the different days but doesn’t always know them in order. However, the teacher told us that, like all the kids in her class, our daughter knows when it’s Wednesday.

Why is that? Well, that’s because every week features “Waffle Wednesday.” Like most school menus, her daycare’s foodservice provider publishes a monthly menu in which the same meals are rotated every two weeks for a period of weeks. (Most foodservice operations do this because weekly meals must meet certain nutrition guidelines, so using the same weekly menu, alternating weeks, makes menu planning easy.) The one thing that does not vary are those waffles on Wednesday mornings.

We could get into a whole discussion about waffles and whether they should be on the menu in the first place – but that’s not really my concern (though I would like to see some healthier options, such as yogurt or eggs). I’m not about to take up a battle with the daycare’s foodservice provider, but I am willing to adapt this teaching tool into my own meal strategy.

As I have mentioned before in a previous post, we do dinners together as a family and write out the weekly menu prior to the weekend grocery shop. Like the foodservice provider, we tend to rotate among the same typical dishes, though not as systematically as they do. Perhaps, to help my daughter learn her days of the week in order, we do certain themes for dinner. Here are my initial thoughts:

  • Meatball Monday (OK, I know “Meatless Mondays” are popular right now, but it’s harder to teach her what isn’t on her plate vs. what is)
  • Turkey Taco Tuesday
  • Watermelon Wednesday
  • Thai Thursday
  • Fish Friday
  • Steak Saturday
  • Pizza Sunday (OK, so I know that doesn’t match, but we almost always do pizza on Sundays!)

Any other ideas? I could use some help!

Published by

Elana Natker, MS, RD

I'm a dietitian, communications professional, wife, mother - just your typical modern-day woman trying to juggle it all.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s