The Importance of Family Meals: Planning Mealtime Conversation

This is the second blog in a series that is exploring some benefits of eating meals together as a family.

A report from the University of Florida points out that one of the real benefits of family meals is that it gives the opportunity for conversation. There are real benefits to these mealtime conversations.

Dinner-time conversation expands the vocabulary and reading ability of children. This benefit does not depend on the family’s socio-economic status — children in all families do better when they engage in dinner conversations.

Dinner conversations allow children the opportunity to talk to their parents and siblings and to have an active voice within the family structure. It also provides opportunities for children to listen to others as well as express their own opinions. Family dinner gives every member of the family a chance to discuss the day and share any exciting news.

The study offers several suggestions regarding mealtime conversations:

  1. Discuss the child’s day. Ask questions that express interest in your child’s daily life.
  2. Discuss current events. Bring up news appropriate to the age of your child.
  3. Pick and choose. Create topics together; write them on a piece of paper and randomly choose one to discuss each night.
  4. Let all family members talk. Be an active listener and be sure your child learns to listen as well.
  5. Encourage your child to participate. Do not underestimate your child’s ability to hold a conversation.

So, plan to have at least one meal a day together, and as you go about your daily activities give some thought as to what you might discuss at mealtime.