Nutrition Education Goals

Recommendations from major organizations such as the American Dietetic Association, United States Department of Agriculture (Team Nutrition), Cooperative Extension, and Head Start were considered, as well as advice from experts in child nutrition to develop four major nutrition objectives for the Celebrate Healthy Eating modules. The curricular suggestions on this Web site are to provide educators and caregivers with ideas and activities so that they can help young children:

  • accept and enjoy a variety of healthful foods, especially fruits and vegetables and whole grain cereals.
  • develop eating habits important to good nutrition and compatible to cultural and family life.
  • develop skills and positive attitudes about helping at meals and with cooking.
  • begin to connect that food and exercise are important to good health

Celebrate Healthy Eating follows a holistic, integrated approach where you, as an educator, can fit nutrition education into common preschool themes in a developmentally appropriate manner. It follows preschool and kindergarten goals for learning of literacy, mathematics, science, and social studies. Since most child care and preschool environments have children eat meals and/or snack on a daily basis, nutrition education opportunities can easily fit into daily or weekly routines throughout the year. Outside of the classroom, children can receive nutrition education through early childhood professionals, child care providers, parents, grandparents, and other adults who care for children.

Celebrate Healthy Eating was guided by the principles of The Creative Curriculum for Early Childhood (1) which specifies goals and objectives in three areas of development: socio-emotional development, cognitive (learning) development, and physical development.

The Creative Curriculum is written for educators in a variety of early childhood settings, but their guiding principles could also be useful for parents. The Creative Curriculum suggests a physical environment that has interest areas (or centers) such as blocks, house corner, and art, to name a few.

Additionally, consistency in schedules and routines are promoted which may include circle time, transition times, rest times, and mealtimes. This approach to early childhood education is in full compliance with the recommendations of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) as described in Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early Childhood Programs (2).

Early Childhood Educational Objectives

Below are some of the objectives listed by the Creative Curriculum which are most frequently used as objectives in Celebrate Healthy Eating. A full list of Creative Curriculum objectives can be found in their publication (1).

Socio-Emotional Development

To experience a sense of self esteem:

  • feel proud of one's heritage and background
  • demonstrate confidence in one's growing abilities
  • To demonstrate cooperative, pro-social behavior
  • work cooperatively with others on completing a task

Cognitive Development

To acquire learning and problem solving skills:

  • use planning skills
  • ask and respond to questions
  • observe and make discoveries

To expand logical thinking skills:

  • classify objects by similarities and differences
  • recall a sequence of events
  • arrange objects in series
  • recognize patterns

To acquire concepts and information leading to fuller understanding of the immediate world:

  • identify names of objects and events
  • make comparisons
  • use words to describe characteristics of objects
  • identify relationships of objects in space (below, inside, under)
  • count in correct sequence and match one-to-one

To expand verbal communication skills:

  • follow simple directions
  • talk with other children during daily activities
  • make up stories
  • participate in group discussion

To develop beginning reading skills:

  • acquire a love of books
  • listen to a story and explain what happens

To acquire beginning writing skills:

  • recognize written names
  • label pictures

Physical Development

To enhance and refine fine motor skills:

  • use small muscles for self help skills
  • use writing and drawing tools with increasing control

To use all senses in learning:

  • discriminate by taste and smell
  • discriminate differences in texture

You can also think of learning objectives across subject areas. Examples of learning objectives of Celebrate Healthy Eating activities and ideas are outlined below according to subject area domains. This illustrates how easy it is to use nutrition and food education to accomplish many educational objectives for young children.