Nursery Garden to Nursery School: Revolutionizing Infant-Toddler Culinary Curriculum is pilot food program created and housed in MINE, ME, & US Montessori School. It is our hope that the curriculum designed for Nursery Garden to Nursery School Program at MINE, ME, & US Montessori School will serve as a template that other preschools and child care centers can use to implement their own organic, seed-to-table culinary curriculum across the nation.
As part of the culinary curriculum, the students plant and tend the gardens, are involved in food preparation, and enjoy taste tests and food pairings as well as delicious organic meals and snacks. Take a look and join us for lunch!
Our mission is simple: to change the way we think about feeding our children by broadening the focus of what we are feeding them to include how we are feeding them. Our goal is to teach children about food from the seed to the table, allowing them to explore and experience it in numerous settings and contexts. We do this through our culinary curriculum. Daily at MINE, MINE, & US Montessori School we provide children with organic, vegetarian, meals and snacks. Through this process of growing, preparing, and tasting food children will learn to celebrate the world of food, from seed-to-table.
Nursery Garden to Nursery School: Revolutionizing Infant-Toddler Culinary Curriclum
We all know that what we eat is important, but at MINE we believe that when and how we eat are equally, if not more, important and all of the experiences MINE children will have around food are direct outgrowths of this belief. Our practices regarding food and nutrition – which are fundamental parts of the MINE educational curriculum – are rooted in several other beliefs.
First, we believe in meeting children’s nutritional needs by serving healthy vegetarian fare that is organic and locally sourced whenever possible.
Second, we believe that children do know and can learn to listen to their body’s natural signals of hunger and fullness. This ability is present at birth and we will do everything we can to trust, nurture, and respect this ability in our students, starting from their first day at MINE, ME, & US Montessori School. This is fundamental to the success of the culinary curriculum.
Third we believe in helping children establish a healthy relationship with food. While this is intimately connected to letting children listen to their internal signals (and to giving them language they need in order to describe those feeling), we believe that it also develops through regular interaction with food from seed to table.
Lastly, we fundamentally believe that toddler food should look like adult food – there are no “children’s menus” here. Quinoa patties with avocado slices and a mint yogurt sauce, kale chips, apple cider and roasted butternut squash bisque, and homemade granola with organic yogurt are just samples of the meals and snacks your children will enjoy during school. We believe that good food is good food, regardless of your age.
The Nursery Garden to Nursery School program defines the best practices necessary to support these beliefs in each MINE, ME & US Montessori School classroom. It is also a valuable resource for parents interested in knowing more about why we do what we do at school, and how you can support or adopt these practices at home. As parents and caregivers, we of course want our children to get the proper nutrition for their growing bodies. But at MINE, ME, & US Montessori School we also believe that focusing only on what, at the exclusion of when and why, can have unintended consequences. Our goal is to establish healthy habits, not a healthy diet, because those are the foundation of health and happiness.
MINE, ME & US Montessori School chooses baby-led feeding to promote independence during meals. Independence begins at six months old when a child is sitting up and has teeth. Baby-led feeding eliminates pureed textures and the concept of spoon feeding. MMUMS uses this practice to facilitate learning to eat, chew, and swallow, self-feeding, development of fine motor skills, and allows a baby to try a larger variety of foods.
Baby-led feeding allows babies to develop a gag reflex. Gagging indicates that a baby is learning to handle a problem themselves and is a natural response to cope with solid food. The difference between gagging and choking:
Gagging: a child may appear to have a mild cough and make noise. Gagging is a safe response to food traveling too far back into the mouth or to a child having too much food in their mouth
Choking: a child may present a look of fear and does not have the ability to break or make noise.
If a baby is gagging, it is important to remain calm and observe the scenario. A child will learn from your reaction, if you are scared, they will be scared too. Instead, choose to stand by the baby and offer calm words and support. After the baby has successfully removed the food from their mouth (by swallow or using their hands), offer them a sip of water.
Things to know when baby is ready to start eating solids:
The baby may not actually eat the food in front of them. Baby-led weaning is not about eating a complete or full meal. It is about exploration and learning to eat. This developmental process will vary from child-to-child.
Serve the baby what you are having. They might not like it but they will be getting calories/protein from breast milk or formula, as well.
At MMUMS, the babies in Nido community are served the same foods as the toddlers, children’s house, and elementary school children. Certain foods are altered by shape or consistency to allow baby to eat what everyone else is eating. For example, carrots or apples may not be shredded in a salad, but instead the baby will be given carrot sticks or apple wedges, allowing them to hold the item and avoid choking. Another example is instead of whole peanuts, a baby may be given peanut butter.
Allow the baby put food in their mouths themselves. They will learn the controlled movement of their tongue as food moves backwards.
*Honey and cow’s milk are not introduced until 12 months of age.*