Browsing by Subject "Ruokakasvatus"

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  • Kuusjärvi, Siiri (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    Background and the aim of the study: Based on previous literature, the cooperation between catering workers and early childhood educators is essential for providing special diets and food education activities in day-care centres. This cooperation is scarcely studied. Furthermore, while some research has been conducted in the school environment, the perceptions and roles of catering workers on food education have not been previously studied in the early education environment. Therefore, this thesis aimed to examine how catering workers and early childhood educators perceive their cooperation and to observe their dynamic in the day-care environment. Additionally, the aim was to explore what perceptions catering workers and early childhood educators have on food education, their role as food educators, and the relationship that children have with catering workers and the kitchen. Material and methods: The study was qualitative by design with an ethnographic emphasis. Observation and interview data were collected from four day-care centres in the Pirkanmaa region. In each day-care centre, data was collected for two days by observing a group mealtime and interaction moments between catering workers and early childhood educators. Mealtime observations were recorded using a form developed based on the Environment and Policy Assessment and Observation (EPAO) -tool. The children in the mealtime observation groups were mainly 2-5 -years old, though one group of 1-3 -years old was also studied. Besides observations, two interviews were conducted in each day-care centre: one with a catering worker and the other with an early childhood educator. Interviews (n=8) were performed as thematic interviews. Interview and observation data were combined in the analysis phase. The analysis was data-based content analysis. Symbolic interaction theory was used as a guide in data collection and as a reflection point for the results. Results and conclusion: Early childhood educators strongly emphasised mealtime related topics and the children’s role in food education during interviews. There were slight differences between early childhood educators´ descriptions of food education, which were similarly reflected in mealtime observations. Catering workers emphasised the properties of food and food appreciation more often than early childhood educators. Catering workers and early childhood educators experienced their cooperation to be rather good, though perceptions on what good collaboration included differed. Staff interactions were subject to constant change and cooperation was unique to each day-care centre. Data analysis from both observation and interviews revealed “the symbols of cooperation” as a common theme, which was divided into four categories: 1) flexible interpretation of the service contract, 2) staff parties, 3) a shared break room, and 4) an open kitchen door. Catering workers and early childhood educators considered children to perceive catering workers divergent from other adults but not unfamiliar. The kitchen was considered a place that interested children but remained a somewhat unfamiliar and forbidden place for them. Results provide new insight for the perceived and observed cooperation between catering workers and early childhood educators and their perceptions about food education. Despite the potential for cooperation and food education, childrens’ relationship with catering workers was described to be distant and, therefore, provides opportunity for further studies.