Food as a tool for learning in everyday activities at preschool - an exploratory study from Sweden
Background: There is a need for research both in relation to food education at preschools and in relation to how the individual teacher can handle and relate to the many different scientific facts and paradigms that are prevalent in relation to food, health, and a sustainable lifestyle.
Objective: The aim of this study was to explore the experiences and meanings that preschool teachers associate with involving food as a tool for learning in planned educational activities.
Design: An exploratory study was conducted in 14 preschools with 131 teachers. Twenty semi-structured individual or group interviews with 45 preschool staff were conducted, and 10 interviews were selected for analysis.
Results: According to participants, both children and teachers developed a sensory language; children became more positive towards tasting and teachers discovered new possibilities for interdisciplinary work. However, the results also show that an allowing system, with both an interested and confident teacher who recognises the competent child and a supportive organisation, is needed in order to make food a meaningful tool for learning in preschool.
Discussion: According to previous studies, food has the potential to play an important part in everyday activities at preschool, both in planned educational activities as well as at meal situations. Our results imply that a holistic understanding of food in preschool is required for long-term work with food as a natural part of the everyday activities.
Conclusion: The results imply that it is fun and meaningful for both children and teachers, and quite possible, to work with food as a tool for learning in everyday activities at preschool. In order to include food as a way to work with the preschool curriculum for a sustainable lifestyle, an allowing system is needed.
Keywords: preschool; teacher; meal education; food education; Sapere; cooking
(Published: 6 October 2016)
Citation: Food & Nutrition Research 2016, 60: 32603 - http://dx.doi.org/10.3402/fnr.v60.32603
Authors retain copyright of their work, with first publication rights granted to SNF Swedish Nutrition Foundation. Read the full Copyright- and Licensing Statement.