The education ministry has suggested that kindergartens install open-style kitchens that allow children to watch their meals being prepared, to spark their interest in food and teach them healthy eating habits.

The suggestion is included in guidelines on kindergarten designs that the ministry recently updated to appeal more to children and increase interaction between staff and parents.

The new guidelines urge the use of open-style kitchens next to dining areas where children eat lunch, as a way to create a home-like atmosphere.

Kids Mayumi — a kindergarten in Izumi, Osaka Prefecture, that already stresses nutrition education — has a kitchen with big windows and a door connecting the eating space and cooking area, to allow children to see cooking activities.

This arrangement helps the children interact with those cooking, and gives the adult employees a chance to learn each of the children’s names.

“This may help children to feel a sense of gratitude to those who cook meals for them,” a Kids Mayumi staff member said.

The kindergarten is one of the institutions the ministry used as a reference when updating the guidelines.

The guidelines also call for the introduction of entrance areas where parents and kindergarten staff can interact to build stronger cooperation between them.

Other suggestions in the guidelines include offering kindergarten staff space to exchange information about the children.