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Monday, November 21, 2016

Letter from Ms. Jenn - Family Dinners

I love November!  It is a month full of family and food.  Two of my favorite things.  So I thought this month I would share with you something that is really important to my family: eating dinner together.  Life is so busy and some days it seems so hard to make time for everything that life is asking of you and sitting down for dinner seems like an impossible thing to do.  Making time to sit down at the dinner table has so many advantages for your children and your family.  I thought I would share with you some advantages of eating dinner together and some easy ways to make it happen at your house!

What happens when families eat together? Some studies show:

• Young children who eat with their family have a larger vocabulary and know more rare words.  Having a large vocabulary leads to early and easier reading.
·     • Older children reap intellectual benefits of eating with their family and sharing in conversation with adults.
·     • Children who eat dinner with their family 5 to 7 times a week are twice as likely to get A’s in school as those who eat with their family less than 2 times a week.
·     • Children who eat regular family meals are more likely to eat more fruits and vegetables, are less likely to be obese, and more likely to live a healthy life style on their own.
·     • Regular family dinners reduce high risk behaviors in teenagers like smoking, drinking, violence, school problems, eating disorders, sexual activity, and drug use.
·     • Family meals can lead to more positive moods and more positive views for the future.

How can you make this happen at your house?  Our lives are so busy trying to get everything done, here are some tips that may help you do family dinners a few times a week.

·     • It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.  Try to start with a couple nights a week and if it works for your family try 3, then 4.
·     • It doesn’t have to be dinner.  We sit down with the children here at lunch time and share conversation.  If your family has more time in the morning then do it then!
·     • Plan ahead.  What days work best for your family? Ask the children what sounds good.  What is a meal that is quick or easy for you to make ahead of time? 
·     • Keep it simple. It doesn’t have to be fancy.  Sitting down to leftovers has the same benefits and sitting down to a gourmet meal. 
·     • Let children help with clean up.  Give them simple jobs like clearing the table or helping with dishes.

Just as important as the food that you eat is the atmosphere at the table and presence of the parent.  TV should be off during dinner time and children should be encouraged to engage in conversation.  Keep positive and open communication throughout dinner. Enjoy this time with your babies, time goes so fast and soon they will be off, out on their own. Trust me on this one! 

- Ms. Jenn

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