“Food is fuel for our bodies. So is conversation for our brains.”
The National Literacy Trust (2013) believes that mealtime chatter boosts children’s communication skills and confidence. A study with school children in 2012 concluded that children whose families chat at mealtimes feel more confident to speak in front of a group compared to those who eat in silence or don’t sit down for meals at all.
Studies have even shown that families who eat together often consume more fruits, vegetables, vitamins and micronutrients, with one study shared in ‘The Journal of Paediatrics’ showing that having at least 1-2 family meals per week significantly reduces the odds of being overweight or obese 10 years later in young adulthood compared with never having family meals.
At Abacus Ark we believe mealtimes should offer a relaxed, social environment promoting positive food related behaviours, good nutrition and healthy eating habits.
To ensure that our mealtimes embrace a positive welcoming environment where children are encouraged to eat well, develop good eating habits and promote social skills, we have decided to create centrepieces called ‘Table Talkers’ that link with our menu. During our upcoming food trial (starting Wednesday, 4th July) we will be introducing the ‘Table Talkers’ to our preschool classrooms.
Each meal will have a matching ‘Table Talker’ as a centrepiece to encourage valuable discussion as the children eat, while also helping children to stay focused and sit at the table for the duration of the meal. They will also support fussy eaters through positively encouraging children to try new foods. ‘Table Talkers’ are supported by Prompt Cards for our teachers which include details about the food being served, the origins of the dish and the main ingredients used.
For tips about how you can enhance your children’s mealtime experience check out http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/the_importance_of_mealtime.