Health, wellbeing & movement—including Children's Voices in SDN Woolloomooloo's Menu

A chance to review the centre menu gives every child a voice at SDN Woolloomooloo.  

Including the children’s preferences in regular menu reviews is important to the team at SDN Woolloomooloo. With families struggling to find time to do it with children at home, this year the team decided to include the survey in their program and have ended up with more feedback than ever.  

SDNs menu survey has a range of questions and includes a lot of photographs. Wanting every child at the Centre to participate, the team at Woolloomooloo were able to adapt experiences around menu feedback to suit the learning styles of the children.   

Understanding Infants’ preferences required sensitive observation, and the team took their time with small groups of children. Which food photographs made the children smile? What did they point to? Who licked their lip or even tried to lick the picture?

Toddlers were excited to point and label some of the foods they saw – an opportunity to practise talking and listening and to announce their preferences with enthusiasm!  

For the preschool children, the menu review prompted a range of investigations as connections between this experience and others - like tending the veggie patch and experimenting with food science - were made.  

After reviewing everyone’s feedback, educators responded with real-food experiences that sparked the senses like tasting, cooking and butter-churning. The Infants cooked the muffins from the survey photos, giving them lots of opportunities for scooping, pouring, tasting, stirring and more tasting. The finished muffins were a hit!

Centre Cook Elizabeth has carefully reviewed the children and families feedback before beginning to introduce changes to the menu. The children are reminded about their feedback as new menu items are introduced, giving them insight into the impact of their feedback. Although the families’ preference for more salads on the menu was not met with enthusiasm by all children, Elizabeth has responded to the feedback by offering simple salads which, with repeated exposure, children are beginning to enjoy.  

Thinking about healthy bodies has led the preschoolers in particular to think about what being ‘healthy’ means, and how ‘healthy’ might be different for different people. Structured discussions about where foods come from and the foods some people are allergic to have helped them develop not only a sense of their own body’s needs, but also to consider the health of their peers with other requirements.  

A ritual Winter menu review at SDN Woolloomooloo has evolved to become a powerful tool for children to have their say and to be listened to. The educators at the centre have skilfully approached the review alongside a range of experiences which are playful and experimental, recognising that a simple menu review can become an engaging investigation into growing healthy bodies.  

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