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Cwmbran nursery teaches table manners to tots

Free Press Series: Billy D Jenkins pours himself some vegetable curry whilst Tilly Spiers waits patiently Billy D Jenkins pours himself some vegetable curry whilst Tilly Spiers waits patiently

A NURSERY in Cwmbran is leading the revolution in how meals are served with the children taking a key role.

Bellevue Children’s Nursery has got rid of the plastic trays used in nurseries and schools up and down the country and brought back the use of china plates and cups.

It is the vision of the nursery’s owner Liz McNamara, who first introduced the idea in 2006, for all nurseries and schools to follow in their footsteps.

At meal times, children aged three take their seats patiently at the table and offer to undertake tasks.

They hand out cutlery, the china plates cups and saucers, before serving their own food on to their plates.

Ms McNamara said: “Change is daunting but with gradual progression and a willingness to develop the children’s skills, we have shown just what the children are capable of.

Food is cooked on the premises using fresh ingredients by Jackie Hamlinton. She started her career over 12 years ago as a restaurant chef and is now keen to keep quality in the meals she serves to the children, with a focus on vegetables.

She said: “We do not put pressure on children to try things they don’t like but allow them to gradually get used to it and the number of food phobic children in the nursery has fallen."

“We provide the majority of children’s nutrition so it’s important to get it right.”

Meals include vegetable curry and rice, chicken dinner, and shepherds pie.

During the meal, Ms Hamlinton teaches the children about the properties of the food and gives them interesting facts about how the food was made.

After they have finished eating, the children scrape their plates and wash up, before wiping the table down with a cloth.

Ms McNamara said the children pick up fine motor skills in holding cutlery, as well as values of sharing by passing out the serving dishes and also counting as they take out the correct amount of crockery and cutlery required.

She added: “It’s wonderful to give children a chance to develop independent skills, to learn about portion control and the health benefits of food and all this they can take home and educate their parents about.”

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