Many of us can agree, being around family can make simple things in life more special! Whether it’s time spent together during holidays, celebrating birthdays, or simply enjoying togetherness, family events can make life memorable. Why wait until special occasions to show your family that they matter? Dining together can make simple things feel special every day!
Dining in with your family is one of the easiest ways to incorporate spending quality time together… on a daily basis. Knowing that schedules can make this task very difficult to implement but understanding the benefits will help encourage us to make the time for this important ritual. Research studies show that frequent, positive mealtime experiences can lead to better communication among family members, improved performance at school, and enhanced reading levels, as well as better overall nutrition. During meals, parents are able to teach their children how to actively listen and express themselves through conversation. As a result, these mealtime conversations expand children’s vocabulary and increase their reading skills. Equally important is that eating together helps encourage healthy eating habits.
Make plans to set aside December 3, 2016 as Dine in Day. This initiative, started three years ago by the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (AAFCS) promotes the importance of group meals in fostering family and community relationships, encouraging healthy diets and stretching food dollars. AAFCS cares about family mealtimes and is spreading awareness.
Here are some Dine In Day conversation starters and tips to create an enjoyable and relaxing atmosphere for your family:
- Start with minimal distractions. Turn off all devises…televisions, iPads, laptops, and set aside cell phones.
- For families with preschoolers here are some conversation starters
- If you could be any animal in the world for a day, which animal would it be? Why?
- What made you happy (or sad) today? Why?
- Who did you sit next to (or play with) at school today? What did you talk about?
- Would you like to help plan dinner for tomorrow night? What foods would you like to help cook for dinner?
- For families with adolescents and young adults here are some conversation starters
- Ask about their hobbies, clubs, or extracurricular activities
- If you could have one day free of all responsibilities what would you do?
- Share funny stories and discuss light current events
Remember, eating together matters. Try to create a positive atmosphere before and during meals.
- Respect and involve every family member giving everyone an equal opportunity to share an opinion without teasing or criticizing.
- Download free conversation starters at www.school-wellness.org
- Background music can be a nice addition!
Individuals, families and groups can pledge to dine in December 3 at http://bit.ly/2dPj58G . Diners can also participate on social media by sharing photos and using the hashtags #FCSdayFL and #healthyfamselfie.
Build stronger relationships and positively impact your children’s growing values. Don’t wait until special occasions to reap the dining together benefits, dine in now!
For more information on the importance of family meal
- Lyttle and E. Baugh, The Importance of Family Dinners (FCS2286), Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences (Archived).
- Paredes and K. Shelnutt, Raising Healthy Children: The Importance of Family Meals (FCS8925), Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences (06/2010).
Tamarah Ulysse FSU Intern, Family and Child Sciences
Edited by: Heidi Copeland
Extension Agent I
Family and Consumer Sciences
615 Paul Russell Road
Tallahassee, FL 32301-7060