Balanced Meals for a Healthy Life
Good nutrition means enjoying food that is good for you and appreciating the occasional treat every once in awhile. “Healthy” does not mean “depriving kids of what they like to eat.”
At OECC, we provide your child with full breakfasts, lunches, and afternoon snacks. These meals provide the energy they need to explore the world and the nutrition they need to grow strong.
Fresh Food Made on the Premises
Fresh food is essential to healthy eating. While prepackaged or “instant” meals are filled with sodium, high fructose corn syrup, and foreign chemicals, fresh ingredients have natural sugars, vitamins, and complex carbohydrates that encourage healthy growth. To provide this better, tastier food, we bring in fresh ingredients and prepare meals at our childcare center every day. We even grow our own vegetables in the outdoor classroom.
Getting Children Excited About Cooking
At O’Fallon Early Childhood Center, we give children the tools they need to succeed for the rest of their lives. One way we accomplish this goal is by letting older children in the Investigators Room help us prepare meals for the whole school. If this activity seems like a lot for a preschooler, we assure:
- Safe preparation: Children are overseen by our teachers and only use cooking tools that are safe for children, such as plastic knives for slicing vegetables.
- Children are given tasks they can handle: Your child will NOT be expected to do complex or dangerous tasks (i.e. working with stoves). Instead, child-friendly jobs such as measuring, adding, or stirring ingredients will make your child feel proud and involved in an important daily process.
Learning to Feed Ourselves
Preschoolers learn more than just “how to cook” when they help us prepare meals. They also develop:
- Basic motor skills: Cooking takes concentration and a lot of hand-eye coordination.
- How to follow directions: Recipes are an essential part of cooking. Preschoolers will learn that without following the directions, your food won’t turn out the way you want it to.
- Math skills: Cooking requires specific measurements and keeping track of numbers. As a result, your child will learn basic math skills (i.e. counting) as well as more complex skills (i.e. fractions).
- Scientific concepts: Since we cook every day, adults may forget that we’re really performing science experiments: combining materials to produce an effect. Children will see the changes in food from raw to cooked and begin understanding the basics of chemical reactions.
- Creativity: Following directions is important, but not everything has to be perfect for food to taste good. Children will discover that there are many different ways to approach one specific direction.
- Self-confidence: “Look at what I made!” If this sounds familiar, then you realize how proud your child can be of their accomplishments. Cooking provides a clear reward for hard work that will build our preschoolers’ confidence every day.
- Independence: Children who are used to their parents or other adults cooking for them may not realize what they—as a child—are capable of. Helping adults cook breakfasts, lunches, and snacks shows preschoolers that they are more skilled than they previously realized.
Infants & Nutrition
Infants who cannot eat whole foods, will get organic homemade baby food with the exception of sweet potatos. Our teachers make food for the children by food processing the foods to a soft and smooth consistency. If children can’t eat the food on our menu, a substitution is made. For example, if the preschool children are having carrot sticks, the infant, toddler and two year old children will have cooked carrots.