Why we developed an early years nutrition training game

Why we developed an early years nutrition training game

We're delighted to welcome our very first guest blogger on the Focus Games blog! We worked with Dietitian Shirley Serber to create The Foodtalk Game, and in her blog Shirley describes the inspiration behind developing a game:

A few years ago, we were asked to develop bespoke training for an early years team. The ultimate request? Make it as interactive as you can. Curiously enough this was not the first time we were asked to develop interactive training. Of course, bringing fun to learning isn’t just children’s business - we love bringing fun to whatever we do as it is a great way to keep staff engaged!

As Dietitians we constantly talk about how nutrition is essential for child development. We spend our working hours practicing what we preach – creating training solutions for early years staff so they can give children the best start.

Unfortunately, 79% of Early Years staff have no nutrition training despite nurseries and children centres’ desire for more support in this area. This means thousands of nurseries all over the country are looking for innovative and engaging early years nutrition training.

As training is a big passion of ours and innovation is at the core of everything we do, we knew we had to rethink our training model so we could reach a much wider audience. We love a challenge and so a few years ago we met to discuss innovative training options. What is the essence of real innovative training we asked ourselves? And how can we bring affordable and accessible training to nurseries and children centres?

After a long team meeting (ours takes forever but we enjoy every minute) we came up with a ‘word map’ of what nurseries and children centres want and need. We also did a literature review to check the latest research in the field. By the end of the meeting we knew where we were going – we would turn our complete nutrition training into an educational board game.

Research shows that board games as a method for training are proven to be engaging and effective as well as significantly improving both knowledge and confidence within health and social care workers. As a teaching strategy it promotes problem-based learning, motivates participants to become more engaged in their learning, encourages critical thinking, and makes learning more exciting. We worked with Focus Games to develop our early years nutrition game, The Foodtalk Game.

Since development, we have run significant pilots with the Foodtalk Game and we were so pleased to discover that our teaching tool does just that – improves nutrition knowledge and confidence in an interactive, accessible and cost-effective way. Read more about those results here.

More importantly we realised that the Foodtalk Game brings teams together for constructive discussions and good laughter and it is peer-led, a nationally recognised model for teaching.

Find out more at www.foodtalkgame.co.uk. Follow us @FoodtalkGame and if you want to reach Foodtalk Dietitians get in touch info@foodtalk.org.uk or @FoodtalkRD.

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