We recently sat down with the team from Rosebank Nurseries to find out more about their experience working with the EYN Partnership in their Rosebank and Naturegarten settings.
How have you found the EYNP experience?
Kim: Very informative! During each section of the Level 3 course there was a wealth of information to absorb that has underpinned the changes we were making and embedding in the nursery.
Rebecca: I would say it’s been an exciting experience! Harriet with the support of our dedicated nutritionist Nicola has brought some fresh ideas to the setting, and of course to the menu. We can’t wait to continue with it next year, and to continue to share our learnings with parents, which is the thing we still feel we need to do more of. Initially introducing some new foods that children weren’t used to was a bit of a challenge but they all really enjoy the new menu now!
Harriet: For me it’s been really enjoyable. I feel I have more knowledge and confidence now. I’ve loved seeing the children talk about the importance of healthy eating and the differences between healthy and unhealthy food.
Julie: The Level 3 learning has been really good. The online support and reading materials that run alongside the course have been great. The detail is useful and they have furthered our knowledge on subjects such as vitamins and minerals that children get from different food groups that might be difficult to learn independently.
Left to right: Kim, Julie, Sadie, Rebecca, Harriet
Why did you sign-up to EYNP?
Kim: In our setting we originally wanted to have a full understanding of appropriate portion sizes, to learn more about requirements for dairy intake, and to learn what we could about how to make mealtimes as enjoyable as possible.
Harriet: For us it was about building practitioner knowledge about the the value of nutrition, and sharing that knowledge with parents, as well as making changes to menu.
Rebecca: Previously we had found it really challenging to create a menu that had lots of variety without the correct advice on what we were aiming for, so we knew we needed more support with that.
Sadie: As Educational Director I felt that practitioners in both of our settings were having lots of discussions with parents with regard to a wide range of allergies, food intolerances and fussy eating and I wanted us to have more knowledge to manage that better. I also knew that the support one child and one family needs might be completely different to that which another needs, and so that detailed knowledge, confidence and up to date training is really important. When we looked at the EYNP package we felt that it would not only support staff to deliver the appropriate messages to our young children but also help parents to understand the importance of nutrition and have the correct information. We also felt that signing up to EYNP would help show parents we were committed to supporting them and their children.
What changes have you made that have stood out?
Julie: We have used the knowledge we’ve developed through the EYNP to support the implementation of our summer menu, adding more protein-based foods and adding an extra portion of oily fish to our menu on a weekly basis.
Kim: We have also successfully changed our eating environment, and increased our engagement with parents too.
Rebecca: The menu changes have had a great impact on the setting. What we’ve noticed is that the children have extended their own knowledge and understanding of different types of foods as well as expanding their palates.
Harriet: We’ve been more organised in the way we have planned activities that involve nutrition. And of course the changes to the nursery menu.
Has it grown your confidence?
Julie: Yes absolutely. As a setting we know now that we are providing what the children need.
Harriet: It’s grown our nutrition confidence of course, but it has also helped us be more confident doing things like talking about where food comes from and how it is grown.
Has it helped you work alongside parents and promote yourselves to prospective parents?
Kim: We ran a parent forum a little while ago when we invited parents to come along and look at the menus and give us feedback on the food we were providing. It was great as the parents really welcomed the changes and lots of them asked for a copy of menus so that they could try the dishes out at home.
Rebecca: We have some children who are ‘fussy eaters’ and we have used the advice that Nicola has given us to support these parents with their children. We have been able to point them in the direction of the EYNP website and newsletters so that they can use those for further support. Lots of parents are looking to understand healthy eating advice and we’ve been able to help them with that.
Harriet: We’ve also made the most of displays in the setting to show our commitment to healthy eating, and we’ve had some food focused stay and plays, and included updates in our newsletters.
Julie: Parents now know that we are committed to providing a positive experience for their children in regards to a healthy lifestyle. They also know they have a trained practitioner that they can speak to should they have any questions about food.
Has EYNP changed team attitudes to healthy eating?
Sadie: Yes it has actually. The team have definitely adopted healthier attitudes. I think that stems from realising they are role models for the children, but also just increasing knowledge about nutrition. Our work with EYNP has helped us channel healthy changes for our whole community, children, parents, and staff. Unless you can hit all those three, there’s no point as changes aren’t sustainable. That was the idea and it’s worked. We’ve hit all three because of EYNP.
How has it been working with Nicola?
Kim: Nicola has been great, fully supportive and she is really quick to respond to any queries and questions we have. Her knowledge is fantastic.
Rebecca: Nicola has been a great source of knowledge. She has helped us with our understanding of the changes we have made and has really helped us champion the work we are doing with the EYNP. She has really helped me personally in my role as manager. She’s helped me really think about the needs of the children and focus on implementing changes in the setting n the correct way.
Would you recommend it?
Kim: Yes! Ultimately, it has helped us to support our staff, children and families.
Sadie: Yes absolutely. It has given us the tools,as individual practitioners and as a company to offer the right things for our children and for our parents. It’s given us accurate knowledge, and as professionals we are often bombarded with an expanse of mixed messages. And that happens to parents too. It’s really hard to navigate your way through that.
Left to right: Julie, Kim, Sadie, Harriet, Rebecca