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"Many children do not know how to hold a knife and fork" Gen Sec of NAHT

(26 Posts)
late Tue 03-May-05 19:21:39

David Hart, General Secretary of National Association of Head Teachers said this - discussion anyone?

Our children are still learning and what doesn't help is the fact that it's finger food at school, when they get home they have no interest in learning as they just want time to play or get their reading books/homework out of the way.

happymerryberries Tue 03-May-05 19:23:22

Late, I think that he is probably more worried about the secondary school age children who cannot eat with a knife and fork. I see lots of them every day

giraffeski Tue 03-May-05 19:23:59

Message withdrawn

late Tue 03-May-05 19:25:25


Then what am I wasting my time for... they have years of practice ahead of them - phew!


Aragon Tue 03-May-05 19:26:07

It's all a nightmare. My DS age 2 uses his fingers alot of the time and a fork/spoon/knife as he chooses so that peas must be eaten with a knife and screamed at when they won't stay on said knife.
I think this chap meant that some children have rarely seen anything other than a spoon and also that most other foods are finger foods. Also in this day of busy lives many families don't get the time or opportunity to sit together as a family anymore. The children therefore, never see adults using these utensils.
It's also difficult to sit together as a family around a table when housing is in such short supply and some have barely enough room for a sofa and two chairs in a sitting room - a dining table is an impossibility.

late Tue 03-May-05 19:27:03

At home we use our knife and fork all the time but have been thinking about chopsticks as we are so fed up of their lack of interest and in the end just glad when they eat an entire wholesome meal!

happymerryberries Tue 03-May-05 19:29:12

Yes, and we are above the national avarage. I see children who's table manners whould shame a 4 year old. There are a number of our kids who never eat with a knife and fork. In doing so they spread the food all over the table in the most awful way and will then give you grief if you ask them to clear the mess they make into the bin. They will tell you it is the cleaners job

A school near me has set up a sheme where some children are released early to eat a proper luch with TAs so that they can learn how to eat with a knife and fork, make polite conversation and hve reasonable table manners. It is working well and has had a knock on effect on their other behaviour.

Horrible and unbelievable as it seems some kids only ever eat junk that can be eaten with fingers.

Caligula Tue 03-May-05 19:34:00

Well my kids get good food at the table, but they still eat with their fingers and it drives me mad.

Actually I tell a lie - my DD (3) is getting quite good with a knife and fork (she insists on that instead of a spoon) but my DS (6) is hopeless. I think a lot of it when they are young is to do with motor skills, which girls develop much earlier than boys on average. But it drives me nuts with my DS tbh - any number of star charts don't seem to make him want to eat properly! I'm hoping that by the time he gets to secondary he will actually have learned to eat in a reasonably elegant fashion!

suedonim Wed 04-May-05 13:25:15

A friend of mine taught 5yo's for a number of years in the worst school in her city. She did indeed have children who weren't toilet trained and who had never used cutlery, having been raised on McD's and KFC.

Many of the children's parents (though, in truth, the fathers were few & far between - one class of 30 had just three fathers who were willing to stand up and be counted) were unemployed drug addicts and/or alcoholics. The children were struggling against almost impossible odds, poor little things. But the huge effort my friend put it was appreciated - the children called her 'Mum'!

PinkFluffPudding Wed 04-May-05 13:28:17

TBH, I see one helluva lot of adults around who don;t know how to hold a knife and fork!

chipmonkey Wed 04-May-05 13:29:11

"I eat my peas with honey
I've done it all my life
They do taste kind of funny
But it keeps them on the knife"

handlemecarefully Wed 04-May-05 13:40:39

My 2.10 year old dd only uses her knife and fork intermittently. I haven't pushed it with her because she is a faddy eater and I don't want to be overly strict and deter her from eating. I am thinking there is still plenty of time to finesse her table manners.

Is this wrong? Should I be making more of an issue of it by now?

Caligula Wed 04-May-05 13:55:14

Depends on her motor skills with other things HMC.

I had exactly the same problem with DS - a combination of really faddy eater when younger and bad motor skills, so I didn't push it. But now, i'm beginning to wish I had. He's almost 6 and still really bad at eating with a spoon, let alone a knife and fork.

handlemecarefully Wed 04-May-05 13:55:53

Well her motor skills are good enough - so perhaps I had better start pushing it with her...

fruitful Wed 04-May-05 13:57:28

HMC I've been reading this thinking oops, should I be teaching dd to use her knife? She's 3 this month. She'll use a fork or a spoon but can't manage two bits of cutlery at once. She can't cut things with a knife because baby knives are completely blunt and there is no way she could manage an adult-size one. It hadn't occurred to me that she should be able to do this, tbh.

handlemecarefully Wed 04-May-05 13:58:48

Yes baby knives are blunt aren't they - and I don't think my dd could manager an adult one either

tarantula Wed 04-May-05 14:44:45

Have to say that at dss's school they have paper plates and plastic knives and forks which can not be considered conducive to good table manners so Id say to David Hart that schools also need to provde the facilities to ensure that children can either a/ learn better table manners or b/ practice the table manners that they have been taught at home. cant see that happening with plastic forks and paper plates.

Caligula Wed 04-May-05 14:48:10

Paper plates? They're only suitable for finger food, aren't they?

aloha Wed 04-May-05 14:48:46

I do think it's a lot to expect of four year olds. If they went into formal schooling at six this might not be such a problem. My ds has really struggled with toilet training and definitely cannot (at 3.7) use a knife and fork - he can barely manage a spoon to eat. Not saying that Hart is wrong to say some parents are simply useless, but some kids also really struggle.

aloha Wed 04-May-05 14:49:52

BTW he is starting to read, can count, add and subtract (in two languages!), is learning French etc etc so I think I've done my bit in that direction! He will just need more support with physical things.

almost40 Wed 04-May-05 14:50:14

Most Adult Admericans still cannot use a knife and fork properly. I'm just happy if my DDs are eating. DD2 (15 months) actually shoves food into her mouth with the back of her hand. It's very cute.

tarantula Wed 04-May-05 15:05:39

lol my dd (15 mnths) is the same. she can even manage to eat porridge and yogurt with her hands. Spoons are good in her opinion if shes not too hungry but most of the time its both hands in and shovel .

giraffeski Thu 05-May-05 18:17:09

Message withdrawn

swedishmum Fri 06-May-05 00:32:06

We've got a pack of Ikea plastic knives/forks etc - quite sharp and functional. They may be designed for kids' picnics rather than babies but work v well and v cheap! Dd 15 mth loves them.
As part of my last course (Advanced teaching blah blah ) I chose to write about school lunches as part of a thesis on school ethos. I was appalled by the low standards, confrontational behaviour and shoddy table laying techniques of the lunchtime staff. If this is the only decent eating experience some children get, we have a long way to go. The more I study schools, the less I want my children to attend!

MissChief Fri 06-May-05 13:58:19

God - makes me want to run to the nearest private school, TBH!
Truly appalled by how schools are today in terms of child behaviour & manners- from what I hear from teachers friends, from various visits to some less than impressive local schools..
Oh, wasn't like that in my day -and now I sound really old!!

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