Plan your timing
Consider individual children’s needs when planning your snack time.
- Children having lunch at midday followed by a nap with tea at 4pm will probably not need a snack when they wake from their nap (they should have water available and be encouraged to drink though)
- Your snack time may be taking the place of breakfast for some children. If so, a free-flow snack bar available throughout the first half of the morning would be beneficial and remember, these children will then need to be able to eat more
- Alternatively, a child who has had a filling and nutritious breakfast may not need more than a drink at morning snack time.
Sometimes, especially with whole group snack times, a longer than ideal wait cannot be avoided. At these times sharing rhymes and songs while children wait can help to keep their attention.
If you have a whole-group snack time, try not to treat this as a time for practitioners to be busy elsewhere. Instead, treat snack time as a social point in the day when everyone in the room or setting comes together for a break from the day’s play and learning.
- Practitioners should position themselves where they can most effectively provide the support needed by individual children
- It is good practice to have a practitioner sitting with children in a café style free-flow snack bar
- Practitioners could see themselves as a member of the group, sitting with the children throughout and keeping to the expectations that you have for the children, such as using a plate, saying please and thank you and clearing away.
Snack times can also offer a good opportunity for children of different ages to come together for a shared experiences. Younger children will learn competencies from older children and older children will learn that younger children might, for example, need more adult help, or perhaps begin to offer help themselves (although this should not be at the expense of younger children developing their own practical and social skills).
It should be a time to enjoy, not only an appetising snack but also interesting conversations and opportunities to get to know each other better.