Kids are always learning… and they are always hungry! HOMER’s learning experts have put together some tips to take meal time and turn it into learning time. Keep reading to find out more and to get a free 30-day trial of HOMER!
Take Time to Refuel
Mr. Rogers pointed out that “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning.” Kids are active learners, so whether they are playing with shapes, building blocks, or banging pots and pans, they’re using a lot of physical and mental energy. It's important for parents to have healthy, nutritious snacks ready and available so kids can refuel at any moment. Having snacks on hand also helps kids learn to pay attention to their own hunger cues, which not only builds healthy eating habits for later in life, but helps give them a greater sense of self-esteem.
Learning While You Lunch
At HOMER, we know that when kids learn a new skill, they love showing it off. Meal prep is a great time to introduce your child to basic math skills like counting, division, and one-to-one correspondence.
- Counting: If you are preparing your meal together, ask your child to help you make decisions. For example, say you’re assembling parfait for dessert, you could ask your child, “how many blueberries should we put in?” If your little one is still learning to count, you can both count together.
- Division: This sounds like a lofty idea to teach a little one, but a lot of kids can learn division by sharing. As you eat, you can say “let’s share the apple slices so we each have the same amount.” Your child might not know that ten divided by two equals five, but with prompts from you, they can divide the apple slices into two even groups of five.
- One-to-one correspondence: This math skill means being able to count objects. Kids typically learn rote counting (counting numbers 1, 2, 3, 4 etc.) before they learn how to count objects. So as you eat or prepare your meal, you can model this skill and get their help in practicing. They might not get it right the first time, which is fine. The main point of this activity is to have fun!
Eating Healthy Makes Sense
You might have heard the term “sensory activities” or seen Pinterest lists full of fun ways to engage your child’s senses. Well, mealtime is a multisensory activity of its own! Here are some simple ways to encourage your kids to pay attention to their senses and practice categorizing as they eat.
- What You See is What You Get: As you eat, talk about the food you’re eating and how it looks. For example, start a discussion about colors and shapes by asking, “This carrot is orange, what other foods are the same color?” or “What shape is this blueberry? What other foods are the same shape?” Categorizing is a difficult skill for kids to learn, so keep the conversation calm and casual.
- Focus on Texture and Taste: Even as adults we love talking about texture and taste! With kids, you can make this activity extra fun by making silly voices to correspond with each different texture and taste you identify. Our kids love using high-pitched, squeaky voices to say something is sweet and slow, drawn-out voices to say something is smoooooooth. This game makes trying and tasting foods more fun! Remember, sometimes if a child doesn’t want to try something it doesn’t mean they are being picky, they might have a genuine aversion to certain textures. If you come across any textures your child is reluctant to try, don’t force them to try it. Learning (and eating) should be fun!
Playing With Your Food is A Good Thing!
Mealtime can be stressful for kids, but playing with your food can help kids see it as fun. As a bonus, playing with your food has educational and developmental benefits too!
- Take Your Toys To Tea: Having a good old fashioned tea party with your child and their toys, can help your child develop independence and a positive attitude about meals. You can also practice literacy skills by helping your little one write (or scribble write) a menu for their toys. You might also like to practice setting the table for the toys (and then take that skill into your family meals). It might seem like a chore when they get older, but younger kids love showing self-reliance.
- Fine Motor Skills: Using fun utensils like chopsticks can make your child’s mealtime more exciting and it gets them practicing their fine motor skills. The pincer grip, or the ability to coordinate the index finger and thumb, is a skill that kids learn as babies. However they still need practice to develop the muscles that they use, so it’s good to use fun exercises like this to practice. Another great way to develop these muscles is to fill squeezy bottles with sauces and dressings and let your kids "paint" their meals.
We hope you enjoyed these meal-time learning activities! To help keep the learning going, we’re offering Yumble parents a 30-day free trial of HOMER. You can claim this exclusive offer by going to learnwithhomer.com/yumblog.
HOMER’s learn-to-read program grows with your child and is proven to increase early reading scores by 74%. From ABCs, phonics, and sight words all the way to reading their first story — HOMER helps kids fall in love with learning!
They are offering a 30-day free trial to Yumble parents. You can claim this exclusive offer by going to to learnwtihhomer.com.