What Kids Can Learn at Family Dinner?



Family dinner or eating together, around the table with your kids is a good thing for families to do. Not only does it provide a time for the family to have time together but it is a primary opportunity for learning.

But learning doesn’t just happen, it's a process and a practice, we have to seize the opportunity of learning and know that each time we come together for a family dinner there is an opportunity to learn something.

Everyone can actually benefit from having a family dinner—especially the children. Research has found that family dinners have helped navigate student achievement and decision making.

Here are the few things that kids can learn from having a family dinner.

  • Manners are one of the first things we teach our children.  Of course when they start to ask for food or eat up at the table. We teach them to say please and thank you. We can teach our kids to consider the other person or family member by seeing what they need and passing it to them. Kids may learn how to use a knife, spoon,  and fork.  They also learn how to serve a meal or serve drinks. They also might learn how to not talk with their mouth full of food! 
  • Children can learn cooperation and social skills as they practice patience every day by sharing and passing food, taking turns, waiting for their turn to speak, and using appropriate language and manners.
  • Conversation: Family mealtimes are a significant time to learn how to have a conversation; learn to listen to others, ask questions, and offer thoughts or sharing opinions yourself. This learned behavior goes beyond the dinner table and transfers into daily interactions and potentially school and work environments as well. 
  • Character: When eating together is a relational tool, there are so many opportunities for children to learn behaviors that build character:  patience, self-control, sensitivity, and deference.  Parents are able to model the behaviors, as well as teach and encourage our children when the opportunity arises.
  • Gratitude: Many families start their dinners with a prayer or some type of activity to be thankful together for their meal. Teaching children to have gratitude for having the opportunity to eat together as a family not only strengthens the family connection, but teaches children to be thankful for what they have. 
  • How to share our family with others – eating together regularly sets the stage to invite others to join you. When we do this, the kids can learn to share and give, not only for food but friendship as well to other children. When guests come over, children may be proud to demonstrate some of the great things that they learn during family meal time! 

There are so many great things that children can learn from having mealtime together. As a family you can create traditions that will make mealtime memorable and special. The kids won't even know that they are learning!