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Nourishing the Whole Child
  • Formation
  • Wellness
Alex Clark
The Early Childhood program at The Saint Constantine School is designed to be a home away from home. As Pre-K teachers, we aspire to create a warm, loving environment for our youngest students. Children this age naturally love to help, especially alongside their teachers and classmates. It’s important to us that we foster the tight-knit community young children crave, amid the hustle and bustle of life in the big city.
The daughter of a chef, I grew up enjoying delicious foods. Partaking in community meals is a particularly bonding experience. When we chop, mince, mix, sauté, pour, and eat, we become an indispensable member of the group. We participate in real work, and then in real leisure, together.
This autumn, Mrs. Atweh and I introduced a daily communal snack into our PreK-3 classroom. It has been something special! The whole child is nourishedmind, body, and soul. Our bellies are filled with good foods, our imaginations are enriched with great stories, and our souls commune through prayers and mealtime blessings. 
Preparing and sharing meals has been a true sensory experience as we touch, taste, and explore a variety of hearty vegetables, fruits, grains, and protein.Many students are trying a yogurt parfait, heirloom eggs, vegetable soup, or charcuterie-style snacks for their first time. 
Additionally, our class snack has helped reinforce the lessons and habits we are learning through fables, fairytales, and biblical stories. We incorporate our weekly story into our daily snacks as often as possible, and in so, unite all our senses. It is one thing to imagine the porridge that Goldilocks tasted, and quite another to practice patience as the porridge we cooked together cools. As the students look at pictures of Little Red Hen preparing ingredients for her bread loaf, the story becomes richer as we smell freshly baked bread throughout our classroom.
Lastly, the social part of snack has a great benefit too. The children work collaboratively, practice taking turns, give attention to their friends, pray together, and serve one another. The adults are enriched as we appreciate the students’ help and work alongside them in their new life skills.  Rhythm, ritual, and routine—all at a slower pace—is treasured by the students. And it helps them go back home with new, practical skills.

What a gift it’s been to witness our young students delight in the simplicity of our class snack! Food is a tangible reminder of God’s presence and providence. In helping our students prepare the meal, I’m reminded there’s something greater going on: Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life(John 6:27). When they share and eat together, they grow in communion with one another and with God, the giver of these gifts.

May every
early childhood student know of God’s love for them, both at home and in this
home away from home.