Success Story for Jefferson County Early Head Start: Family-Style Meal Service
During the 2016-17 learning collaborative in the Big Bend region, Melissa Morgan, Area Director and Head Teacher at the Jefferson County Early Head Start in Monticello asked for help with family-style meal service. “Serving meals family style is a requirement of Early Head Start, explained Melissa, “But some of our teachers have problems implementing it.” Melissa particularly wanted some suggestions for the one- and two-year-old classrooms.
A training session was held for all of the teachers in January 2017. The training focused on the following objectives:
Exploring the advantages for implementing family-style meal service
Assessing current practices at the facility
Discussing the skills young children need to master family-style meal service
Identifying and listing methods implementing family-style meal service
The most valuable part of the training was the discussion around the skills young children need to master family-style meal service. Skills include passing food to one another, serving foods to themselves, and pouring liquids. Most one-year-olds are not developmentally ready to do all of these skills by themselves, but there are many things teachers can do to help them learn the skills needed. The discussion centered mostly on play activities that the children could engage in to learn some of the skills, as well as ways teachers could assist in a positive way during meal time.
When asked if the training on family-style meals made a difference, Melissa said that she saw a lot of positive changes among the teachers after the training. “Last year after the training, I noticed that the teachers would encourage the one-year-olds to try things, but would assist with hand over hand. This year, the teachers are with the same children, so now that they are two years old, they know what to do and can serve themselves. I can really see the progress that both the teachers and the children made this year!”
The older children at the site were also given more responsibilities at meal time, such as setting the table and pouring milk. “It’s good to see greater consistency among all of the teachers regarding how we handle family-style meals now, says Melissa.
Information provided by interview with:
Area Director/Head Teacher
395 E Washington Street