Family dining has become an infrequent event in our modern and busy lives. What was traditionally a nightly occurrence has been reduced to irregular gatherings around the dining area. Children eat dinner on their own and mum or dad arrive home at a different time to a later meal. Conversations are reduced to instructions about what the children should be doing and role modelling the use of knives and forks and how to eat politely no longer occur.
Statistically children who eat with their parents are healthier, happier and perform better within educational institutions. These family traditions pay dividends in the adolescent years where children are less likely to dabble in unsociable behaviours, do better with their learning and eat their vegetables.
Sitting around a table sharing the same meal and listening to one another has become a luxury. The more a family eats together the easier it becomes. Practice makes perfect, well almost!! Food is now so easy to obtain and convenient that eating a meal is sometimes done on your own and at speed.
One of the benefits of having these times together to engage in proper conversation is that children’s vocabulary and sentence structure improves and the art of hearing how a problem is solved and learning to listen to another person’s perspective is developed.
So how do we get children excited about sitting together turning off the television set and sharing the same meal together?
Get them involved in the preparation. Set the table, select ingredients for the family meal, help with the preparation and cook the food where suitable. If schedules make the evening meal together difficult then try breakfast or start off with weekend lunches. Make this time just about the family so reduce interruptions. Turn off all the electronic gadgets, let the answering machine take any calls and try some conversations about your day.
Here are some easy meal ideas