Why the Early Years Nutrition Partnership matters: a Room Leader’s perspective

I’m a Room Leader in the Toddler Room at Fennies in Epsom and we have just signed up our Epsom setting (and all of our settings!) to the EYN Partnership!

I recently took part in a film and was able to say why I am so excited about this, and I hope lots of other practitioners watch it and are inspired to ask their managers if they can sign up too.

For me, food is a big part of our day in the Toddler Room and the way we work alongside the children. We keep the children really busy here, they do so many activities, so they need lots of energy and that comes from good food! We make a big effort to make meals sociable and fun, but I am looking forward to learning some more tips and tricks that make us even better at managing mealtimes. We also have children with allergies of course, and it will be good to get some insights from Catherine and Janet about how to make sure those children don’t feel left out when they can’t have what the others are having. We also have children with special educational needs that have an impact on the way they interact with food and the mealtime experience. I’m looking forward to learning more about how we can make sure that children with these additional needs still have the best and most positive relationship with healthy eating.

I’ve been asked why I am so passionate about this experience and I think a lot of it has to do with my own experience as a parent. My son had quite a few allergies when he was younger and I remember how nervous I was about leaving him in anyone else’s care. As a parent you are putting a lot of trust in the team at a nursery, I’m really conscious of that, these parents are relying on us to feed their children well and to teach them healthy attitudes to food. Of course, if children are to be having really healthy diets then what they eat at home matters too, but I actually think nurseries can take the lead. After all, many of the children are eating most of their food here with us, so it’s no good saying it is the parent’s job! I think there is a good opportunity for us to work with parents on this, to go on a nutrition learning journey together.

I also feel strongly that this is a good opportunity for me in my career. You don’t really get to focus on nutrition at all when you are doing your training, and I’ve never come across anything like this before that allows us to learn directly from nutritionists and dietitians, who are going to be the best teachers! It’s such a brilliant opportunity, it’s exciting to learn something new, and to feel like you have something additional to offer.

I’m really proud of Fennies for signing up to the EYNP, it shows that we really put our children and families first and work hard to make sure their years with us pay off and give them the best possible start in life. Every single one of the eleven Fennies settings is working with EYNP, which shows our level of commitment. Here in Epsom we will be spreading the word so everybody knows how we are offering something special over and above other local nurseries!

I know it’s going to challenge us all, learning anything new and committing to something is bound to require a bit of work, but I’m really happy to embrace that, so bring it on!