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Food as a tool for learning in preschool: an exploratory study from Sweden
Kristianstad University, School of Education and Environment, Avdelningen för Humanvetenskap. Kristianstad University, Research Environment Food and Meals in Everyday Life (MEAL).ORCID iD: 0000-0001-9663-5390
Kristianstad University, School of Education and Environment, Avdelningen för Mat- och måltidsvetenskap. Kristianstad University, Research Environment Food and Meals in Everyday Life (MEAL).
2016 (English)In: Abstract book NERA 2016: social justice, equality and solidarity in education, 2016Conference paper, Poster (Refereed)
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016.
National Category
Other Social Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hkr:diva-15650OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hkr-15650DiVA: diva2:950543
Conference
NERA 2016 Social Justice, Equality and Solidarity in Education, 9-11 March, Helsinki, Finland
Note

In Sweden, most children aged 1–5 years are enrolled in preschool, where they have one or more meals per day. A great deal of learning about food and eating occurs early in life, especially regarding preferences for taste and attitudes towards food. Food, eating practices and meals culture are thus experienced by young children both at home and at preschool. Despite this, Swedish preschool teachers have very little theoretical and practical knowledge about preschool’s role and responsibility for children’s food habits. Several studies (eg. Mikkelsen et al. 2014, Dev and McBride 2013) as well as the American Diet Association (Benjamin Neelon and Briley 2011) and the European Food Information Council (EUFIC) argue that children’s education concerning a healthy lifestyle is an important key to good health. As of 1998 Sweden has a specific curriculum for preschool with goals that specify the orientation of the work (The Swedish National Agency for Education 2011). Although the curriculum is very comprehensive and the expected developments are very detailed, the curriculum does not include food or meals, either from a health or a learning perspective. The aim of this study was to explore the experiences and the meanings that preschool teachers associate with involving different pedagogical methods in their everyday activities. 14 preschools in the south of Sweden were included in the study which involved working with two books based on two specific pedagogic methods: Sensory education, so-called Sapere (Algotson, Öström, and Alfredsson 2011), and Cook and learn step-by-step (Andersson 1994). Six months later, 20 semi-structured individual or group interviews with 45 preschool staff were conducted during preschool hours, held in 10 different preschools. A theory of social constructionism was used as a tool for analyses. The results show that support, both individual and structural, is needed in order to make food meaningful among educational activities in preschool. The lack of experienced individual and/or structural support makes it hard to integrate food as a natural part of planned educational activities. There is no potential at all to work with food if both individual and structural support is missing. However, if either individual or structural support is lacking, it may still be possible to work with food during a limited time, as was the case with the reported project. To enable long-term work, with food as a natural part of the educational activities and with food as a way to work with the preschool curriculum as well as national goals for public health and environment, both individual and structural support is required. The preschool teachers need knowledge, skills and tools, as well as the support of managers concerning both organisation and the allocation of resources. Otherwise the success of implementing food as a tool for learning relies on enthusiasts who consider it important that food should be integrated as a natural part of the planned educational activities in preschool.

Available from: 2016-08-01 Created: 2016-08-01 Last updated: 2016-10-13Bibliographically approved

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