Working with children, we fundamentally know the importance of looking at the world through a child’s eyes and the value in giving them the tools they need for their current stage of development.
I taught in Primary Schools for 10 years, teaching in Reception during the introduction of free school meals for all Key Stage 1 children. As a three-form entry school, we went from ninety 4-5yr olds eating packed lunches, to 95% being served a hot meal. This was clearly great for many reasons; the practical aspect was not one of them! We immediately realised we needed to significantly increase the adults in the room to support lunchtimes, as next to none of the children were able to independently manage to cut up and eat their meal (cue roast potatoes flying across the tables). The school was located in an affluent catchment area, this wasn’t through lack of interest/support as such. These children simply did not have the tools they needed to succeed. As teachers, we wouldn’t give 4 year olds a fountain pen when they were learning to write, why were we giving them a straight, thin metal knife & fork and hoping for the best?
Four years down the line my husband and I launched Nana’s Manners ergonomically designed children’s cutlery, featuring on Dragon’s Den in October 2017. Our cutlery is now stocked in many shops including John Lewis, Argos and JoJo Maman Bebe. Our cutlery supports all children in learning to eat confidently and independently, a valuable life skill. Our knife actually cuts food effectively, unlike so many other children’s cutlery sets. It is also used and favoured by an increasing number of Occupational Therapists and endorsed by The National Autistic Society, as children that need that little bit extra support benefit even more so from its use.
Since launching, we have had increasing demand for a ‘commercial’ range of our cutlery that will be affordable and practical for use in nursery/school settings. We’re delighted to have launched this at the start of 2019 and this is now available through the TTS website and catalogue.
There are so many benefits of eating together at lunchtimes and many schools I have met on my journey support this, with teachers and staff also eating alongside the children and recognising the value in that time spent together. Many children feel they can relax and chat in a way in the lunch hour that they wouldn’t in a classroom setting, offering insight that may otherwise be missed.
With statistics showing that less and less families are eating together at home (due to a whole host of reasons) the interaction at school is becoming even more important and valuable.
Eating independently is one of those desirable life skills that many schools include in their list as part of being ‘school ready’. Like toilet training, there has been some debate in the media over whether the responsibility for this lies in the home or in nurseries/schools. Is it possible however that the learning of either of these skills (or many others) can be done in one location without support in the other?
The pressure to fit more and more into the school day is ever increasing. Many schools I’ve spoken to recognise the importance of achieving more than just completing the physical task of eating lunch within that hour. Practicing fine motor skills as well as the valuable conversation/social skills can be accomplished at the same time.
The idea for my cutlery started in the classroom, and I am thrilled that it has now returned to the place it all began, helping children become confident and independent at mealtimes.
We are pleased to be offering BAPN members a 30% discount on our products.