Notting Hill nursery teaching two-year-olds to cook and sit at table with adults to learn healthy food habits

“The kids sit with the teachers when they are eating because it teaches meal times are a communal time.”

A west London nursery is instilling healthy eating habits from a young age, by teaching two-year-olds to cook, sit with adults and learn to love herbs.

Data from the Trust for London shows that more than 23% of children in Year 6 were considered obese, and a recent survey by Hello Fresh revealed that on in four Brits can only cook three recipes.

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Paint Pots Montessori nursery in Westbourne Grove, Notting Hill, is attempting to change the way we eat, starting with children as young as two.

The nursery follows a clear set of techniques to encourage children to develop good eating habits.

Chef and herbologist Maya Thomas cooks next to a see-through window so that the children can watch what she is making for lunch. Credit: Claudia Marquis

Chef and herbologist Maya Thomas cooks next to a see-through window so that the children can watch what she is making for lunch.

“Food doesn’t just appear in front of them, there is a process,” Maya explains.

“They tend to quite want to be involved and ask questions like what are we having today.”

Teachers and parents sit down, eat and talk with children, making meals an enjoyable social event.

“The kids sit with the teachers when they are eating because it teaches meal times are a communal time,” Maya says.

And the children are encouraged to be adventurous and try new foods but at their own pace.

Maya cooking with a variety of herbs. Credit: Claudia Marquis

They are involved in the preparation of meals to give them confidence in the food and ingredients.

“We try to get as many greens and nutrients into them as possible, whilst introducing a new flavour like lovage,” Maya explains.

“We really try to work in terms of seasonality, giving more warming foods in the winter and autumn months.

Maya says that it’s important for children to “make connections from where their food comes from”.

That’s why the nursery sources its food from organic farms such as Riverford, which deliver the vegetables straight out of the field with soil on them.

“It’s really tuning into not only what’s grown seasonally but also what’s happening with the weather and sort of responding accordingly in the kitchen,” Maya adds.