Family style dining is a practice that is a part of many quality early childhood programs. Eating together brings opportunities for conversation, building traditions, and taking time to just get to know your family at deeper levels. Does your family eat together often? At the table? Without cell phones and other gadgets?
At our center, meal time begins first with good health habits of washing our hands. Even if we have just cleaned up or just arrived to the classroom, we all must have clean hands to get ready for our meal. We also wash the table; this is often a classroom job held by one or two of the children. Not only does it get the table ready, it provides a sense of contribution to the meal. Our children also help set the table – by the time they are in our Preschool classrooms, they are setting the table with real glass dishes. With practice and support, your children can serve their food, clean up afterwards, and try new foods with your family at the table. If your table is small or if you are in a space without one, children can still help pass out essentials and become independent with their self-help skills.
We invite you to try out family style dining with your family sometime soon. It is a good opportunity to step outside of your routine and build skills within your children.