Social and educational aspects of mealtimes for handicapped and nonhandicapped presohoolers
Mealtimes serve important social and educational functions for all children. This article reports an observational study of the extent to which teachers of handicapped and nonhandicapped preschoolers use mealtimes to teach and practice functional skills. The lunch routine (pre-eating activities, physical setting, food service, mealtime interaction, posteating activities, organizing the mealtime routine, and teaching during mealtime) was observed in 40 preschool classrooms (20 handicapped and 20 nonhandicapped programs). Although the meals observed were warm and pleasant experiences, teachers generally did not capitalize on the potential of meals for teaching and reinforcing functional skills. Implications of these findings are discussed, and a sequence of mealtime instructional targets is provided.