By Rachel Pratt
Birthdays are a very exciting time for children in early childhood and it is important that children can celebrate these special occasions with their peers to acknowledge and appreciate this day with them. We can probably all remember the excitement of a birthday cake and waiting with anticipation to eat this tasty treat.
In early childhood settings however, this can pose a problem when following healthy eating guidelines that recommend foods and drinks high in sugar, salt or saturated and trans fat should be avoided. For this reason teachers may be unsure of whether to allow birthday cakes into their service, to celebrate birthdays.
Celebrating birthdays with children can be beneficial in many ways, which are reflected in Te Whāriki.
- Children’s wellbeing – Celebrating a child’s birthday helps them to develop a sense of self-worth, recognizing that they are important to others
- Children’s sense of belonging – Sharing experiences from their own lives, that are unique to them, encourages children to see themselves as an important part of the group. They may also want to share food with their peers, a way to link their culture and/or their home life with their time at the centre
- Children’s ability to contribute – Birthdays are a great way for children to interact as a part of a group and to share something that is important to them; through this they can continue to develop important social skills and awareness of others in the group
So, can we provide cake?
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