Justice chancellor: Teacher should be eating same lunch as kids

Tables and chairs in a kindergarten in Estonia. Photo is illustrative.
Tables and chairs in a kindergarten in Estonia. Photo is illustrative. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Chancellor of Justice Ülle Madise received an appeal in which a parent questioned whether it is right for teachers at a kindergarten in Jõhvi to eat their own packed lunches in front of the children instead of the same food as them. Madise found that teachers should either eat the same food as the kids, or explain to them why they are eating different food.

A Jõhvi municipal government representative explained to an adviser to the chancellor of justice that according to the director of the kindergarten in question, teachers do indeed pack along their own lunches, however they eat these lunches in the kindergarten's store room.

The justice chancellor agreed with the parent who sent the letter that kindergarteners may still notice them eating and be bothered as a result.

"The food being offered at the kindergarten is presumably healthy, tasty and varied," Madise said. "Needless to say, a teacher does not need to eat lunch together with their children, but by eating the same food together with them, teachers provide a good example to the children and help them develop healthy eating habits. In addition, such a practice can help create a greater sense of belonging in the group."

If a teacher does want to eat their own packed lunch, she continued, it would be good if they could explain to the children why they're doing so if needed. A teacher's explanation would also be beneficial in case any children are also eating different food than their classmates, she added.

"Eating habits and mindful nutrition play an important role in a child's development," the justice chancellor said. "It is kindergarten teachers' job to support children's development."


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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