Math, Science, and Breakfast?
Let’s Use Breakfast as a Learning Opportunity
By Merav Benson
Merav Benson is a Chicago parent who combines a background in food supply chain strategy and founder of a meal delivery business to tackle an even bigger challenge: raising healthy eaters. Merav is always seeking opportunities to use food to learn about people and places in ways that fit into our busy lives. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All my kids learned their colors while helping me do the laundry. I would ask them to find me the red shirt, the blue pants. Then, we moved on to learning to find matching pairs of socks. Even basic tasks in life present learning opportunities for kids, and breakfast is no different.
Mealtime is so much more than just eating. It’s an opportunity to connect with one another as well as to try different foods, textures and flavors. Of course, some are more successful than others and we all know kids can be fickle. But over time, my kids have grown to become much more willing to try new foods and flavors.
Here are some of the areas we can all focus on at mealtime, at home or at school, that will enhance our kids’ meals and minds:
- Make meals part of the learning
Is Presidents Day coming up? What was a favorite food of a former President? Are the kids learning about Chicago’s history? Eat something that is local to the Chicago area or to the Midwest. Adding the food element to the curriculum will allow kids to get some better context about what they are learning and be more inclined to try new things.
- Use food to learn more about one another
Where are kids in the class from originally? Where were their grandparents from? Use meals to learn about our families and roots. If there are kids from India, make naan part of the meal. It’s a simple, wholesome bread that appeals to lots of kids’ tastes. If there are kids from the Middle East, try a plain hummus. Dipping is fun and hummus is healthy and delicious! My pickiest daughter loves it!
- Involving kids in the planning/prep
Give kids a role in planning/prepping food choices as much as possible. Perhaps a student or group of students rotate onto a meal planning committee. If one of their peers was part of the planning, more kids will participate!
- Use food to learn about the world
Traveling with kids can be expensive and difficult, but experiencing other parts of the world’s cuisines is much simpler! Choose a country of the world as a theme and include an element from their cuisine once a month. Choose a student to learn something to share about the country and show where it is on the map. Suddenly, shapes on a map come alive with tastes!
- Go beyond “Yuck”! or “Yum”!
There are so many elements to food and how we experience it. Introduce kids to some of these elements (i.e. smell, taste, texture) so that they can learn to express what they like or don’t like about the food. Instead of tasting something and saying “Ewwww”, they can learn to say “I liked how it smelled, but I thought it was too salty when I tasted it.”
Hopefully there are some ideas that can be applied in your home or classroom. Thinking about all the possibilities and wonderful benefits of mealtime will encourage trying new foods and healthy habits.