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Social snack time policy

What is social snack time?

Our sessions last between 2 hours and 3.5 hours and children get hungry during this time. Our session times overlap with the natural mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack times of most children, it is a normal time of the day to have a quick bite to eat to keep energy levels high and the body in the right happy state for learning. Therefore we have set aside this time during our sessions and created a dedicated social snack time during which the children can work on their independence and social skills and the adults can model theirs. 

We use social snack time to introduce the following learning experiences:

  • Edible items found within the rainforest, such as forest fruits. 

  • Different cultural foods eaten during celebrations, for example, we have tried Hari Raya cookies, Deepavali sweets, and Rice pudding with figs for Vesak Day. 

  • Social meal-time conversation and vocabulary

  • Spatial awareness of themselves and others, such as where to sit, how much space another person needs, keeping feet away from food and so on. 

  • Using child-safe knives to chop food which develops motor skills and numeracy (portioning). 

  • Understanding of different types of foods and what is healthy and unhealthy. 

  • Developing independence by sitting away from one's carer, serving oneself and clearing up afterwards. 

  • Being a helpful member of the team - helping to put out the mats and hand out plates and food. 

Snack time is also an opportunity to tell a story or to reflect on experiences whilst the children are voluntarily in one place and open to listening. 

What to bring
  • One item of unprocessed and healthy food, such as fruit, vegetables, whole grain home-bakes, proteins such as tofu, eggs, or cheese, popcorn, rice cakes, and other low sugar or low fat items. 

  • Bring enough for a small portion for about 8 children, so two apple slices per child, or one cheese stick for example. 

  • A full water bottle for Forest School and this should be available to them at snack time. 

  • Finger food which doesn't require cutlery.

  • Food which meets your own child's dietary requirements so that every child has at least one item that they will eat and enjoy. 

  • For our 18m-4yrs sessions, food such as grapes or tomatoes must be cut up to avoid bringing a choking hazard to Forest School. 

  • A flask of coffee or tea for example to share with other adults for accompanied sessions.. 

  • Celebratory food for birthdays or cultural celebrations, but please check with your session Leader first. 

  • Containers for your food which the children will be able to open themselves. 

Sign up to Orgayana's newsletter to receive a free copy of the e-book "The Rosy Cheeked Kids", a full and fantastic guide to children's healthy eating, including lunchboxes. 

What not to bring
  • Processed food.

  • Unhealthy food such as sweets, cakes, chocolate cookies, crisps and so on, unless we are celebrating a birthday or it is a cultural food item. 

  • Plastic packaging. 

  • Messy food or food which could spill. 

  • Food which the children can't manage themselves, such as fruit which is difficult to peel.  

  • Bringing too much food or more than one item choice - snack time tends to become a picnic or a full meal in these circumstances. 

Food allergies, intolerances and preferences
  • Accompanying adults remain responsible for what their child consumes during all of our accompanied sessions. 

  • Children attending drop-off programmes with food allergies or intolerances need to be old enough to understand what they are not allowed to eat and able to communicate with the Leader if they are unsure if a food item is suitable for them.

  • Staff will act as an extra layer of safety during all sessions to ensure that children attending with allergies or intolerances do not consume any food items that they can not eat safely. 

  • Parents are responsible for alerting Wildlings when making a booking of any known food allergies or intolerances. Where there is a known food allergy present that food item may be banned from that group, depending on the number of allergies and severity - if you have a child who is allergic to nuts, wheat and dairy, it would be very difficult to ban all of these items. 

  • All nuts and nut products are banned from drop-off Forest School sessions due to the seriousness of nut allergies. 

  • For accompanied programmes Wildlings will not take any actions with regards to food preferences such as vegetarian or vegan, we will leave these to the accompanying adults to monitor. 

  • For drop-off programmes please alert us to your food preferences and we will encourage your child to respect these preferences during snack time. 

  1. Please ensure that your child has had a snack or good breakfast or lunch before the session. One child snacking outside of our social snack time can quickly influence and distract the others.

  2. At snack time, the children will help to set up camp for their snack. They will help to put out the tarps, table mat and plates. 

  3. Children will then use water spray and sanitiser to clean their hands. This is important because they may have touched something poisonous during our nature walk. 

  4. Children will get their water bottles and their contribution to snack time from their bags or from their adults. 

  5. Children will be given the time and space to manage their own snack, when age appropriate to do so.

  6. For accompanied programmes for children 3.5 years and above, adults will sit away from their child with the other adults and model the behaviour that they are looking for from the children. 

  7. If a child is not ready to be away from their adult during snack time, then the child may join the adult on the adult's mat, but the adult may not join the children on the children's mat. It can take time for children to be ready to join the other children and this is fine and adults should avoid forcing this. 

  8. Snack time is strictly 20 minutes long to avoid snack-time becoming a picnic. After 20 minutes snacks will be packed away and everyone will help to do this. This is to avoid snacks becoming food for wild animals or attracting insects.

  9. Your child may continue to eat from their plate until they are finished if they are still hungry whilst we pack away the snacks and set up our experiences for the remainder of the session. 

DATE: 25th October 2019

AUTHOR: Claire Seabrook


REVIEW DATE: 25th October 2020

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