Food literacy is a term used to describe the knowledge and practices people have in relation to food. But what about children? Food literacy is important in the early years because food preferences and understandings develop early in life, and the sooner we can encourage children to develop healthy food habits, the more long-lasting these habits will be. Food literacy can also include cultural understandings, as food can often be a conduit for learning about various forms cultures, our own, and others.
Food literacy plays a role in a variety of early developmental domains, including:
- Social/Emotional Skills: food preparation and consumption are often a communal activity. It helps children to practice teamwork skills, manners, and independence skills.
- Physical Activity/Active Play: learning about food production, such as growing and gardening can often be a physically active task that is healthy in the early years, and throughout the lifespan
- Communication Skills: food can be used to practice talking about colours, textures, tastes, smell, etc. It is a way to learn more about and express the five senses
- Culture/Diversity: as mentioned above, food can be a pathway into learning about various cultural practices
Relatedly, physical literacy is knowledge and understanding of movements of the body. It involves motivation to do physically active things, the confidence to engage in physically active play, and the competence to actually do the required movements.
Physical activity is essential in the early years because this period of time is critical for the development of motor skills (both gross and fine). Physical activity supports healthy brain development and social skills.
The development of physical literacy is aided by:
- Movement rich environments
- Opportunities to engage and interact
- Gradually more complex experiences
- Play-based and child led activities
- Adult role modelling and support
Organizations like participACTION suggest that physical literacy is not only something that develops in childhood but that it is a process that individuals engage in throughout the lifespan, and that starting in early childhood is essential for building a foundation that leads to success in sports and active lifestyles later in life.
Source: https://www.appetitetoplay.com/about/introducing-food-and-physical-literacy and https://www.participaction.com/en-ca/resources/physical-literacy