Parents always envision feeding their children healthy and nutritious food like fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
The reality often ends up being very different.
Toddlers and adolescents are notoriously picky eaters — liking something one day and the next day declaring it “icky.”
Petit Early Learning Journey Centres can serve as a partner for parents to help encourage children to eat healthy food and to maintain an active lifestyle.
Parents who send their children to an education and care centre agree having a setting where all the children eat a nutritious is an excellent way to show how delicious and satisfying healthy foods can be.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reported in 2015 that 1 in 4 Australian children are overweight, so parents need all the help they can get in encouraging healthy eating and lifestyle choices in these early years.
According to Early Childhood Australia, “Healthy eating habits begun in childhood can have a lasting effect. Every child also needs opportunities every day to be physically active and practice new physical skills, either indoors or outdoors.”
Nutritious menus, in-house chef
At Petit Early Learning Journey Centres, children are served fresh, seasonal food, prepared on-site daily by the in-house chef. Each meal is paired with milk and water, and is included in the daily fee so that parents never have to worry about preparing their child’s lunch.
Children are offered the following each day:
- Breakfast (Melbourne centres only)
- Morning tea
- Afternoon tea
- Late afternoon snack
Important note: All Petit Centres are nut-free.
Sarah Landry, parent of a child at Petit Early Learning Journey Burrell 2, says that the centre provides, “Exciting healthy meals which both my fussy kids eat.”
Sample menu (for Autumn):
Morning tea: Fresh fruit platter and banana bread
Lunch: Spaghetti Bolognese
Afternoon tea: Vegetable and cheese skewers
Morning tea: Fresh fruit platter and nut-free granola bars
Lunch: Mexican loaded potatoes
Afternoon tea: Warm apple crumble with yoghurt
Morning tea: Fresh fruit platter and pear muffins
Lunch: Hawaiian chicken with coconut rice
Afternoon tea: Veggie sticks and rice crackers with salsa
Morning tea: Fresh fruit platter and yoghurt with frozen berries
Lunch: Mini vegetable frittatas
Afternoon tea: Apple slices with tahini and sultanas
Morning tea: Fresh fruit platter and rice pudding
Lunch: Tuna salad sandwiches
Afternoon tea: Veggie sticks and rice crackers with hummus
Petit Early Learning Journey has a number of menus developed in association with Dr. Cris Beer, a doctor, author and public speaker who specialises in nutritional medicine. With each menu, the aim is to meet a significant amount of a child’s daily nutritional requirements. In addition all menus in our Victorian and Canberra Centres have been nutritionally analysed through the Federal Government’s Feed Australia initiative.
Food isn’t the only part of promoting healthy lifestyles. Children need to be encouraged and allowed to “get physical” by running, jumping, dancing and just generally expending energy.
The Australian government recommends that each age group gets the following amount of daily exercise:
Infants (birth to one year) – “For those not yet mobile, 30 minutes of tummy time including reaching and grasping, pushing and pulling, and crawling spread throughout the day during awake periods is encouraged.”
Toddlers (1 to 2 years) – “Toddlers should spend at least 180 minutes a day doing a variety of physical activities including energetic play such as running, jumping and twirling spread throughout the day—noting more is better.”
Preschoolers (3 to 5 years) – “Preschoolers should spend at least 180 minutes a day in a variety of physical activities, of which 60 minutes is energetic play such as running, jumping and kicking and throwing, spread throughout the day—noting more is better.”
One of the ways that Petit Early Learning Journey Centres promote active lifestyles is by bringing in outside organizations to lead children in physical activity as well as teach them about the importance of exercise. Over the course of the year, children participate in up to eight six-week programs.
A great example is Petit’s Port Douglas Centre who partners with Future Champs to hold an early childhood physical education program that works with preschool age children. The program even has the character Captain Carrot who visits on occasion!
“The coaches show children exercises from yoga moves to ball skills, and they sit down and have a chat about what healthy eating is,” says Lindsey, Director of Petit Early Learning Journey Port Douglas. “Future Champs, focuses on different things each term, so one term might focus on ball skills, catching and dropping, and then the next term they might focus on stretching bodies, doing yoga, how to regulate themselves through breathing. Another time they might just do physical activity like running, star jumps and stuff like that.”
In addition to physical education, the program incorporates discussions about healthy eating and encourages children to talk about it at home—which they do, according to Lindsey.
Most importantly, Lindsey notes how much the children seem to enjoy the program. “The children love the ball, they like the yoga poses, really they like all of it.”
Here to support parents
Petit Early Learning Journey Centres strive to help children realise the value in healthy eating and exercise, working with parents to accommodate any requests or adjustments that a child may need. Check out the nutrition page on our website for even more information (and be sure to browse and read more about the facilities).