My family recently went to a guest ranch on vacation. Every night, they serve family-style meals. All guests sit down for a meal at the same time around a table in the kitchen or dining room. At this particular ranch, more than one family sits together to visit and get to know each other since they will be spending the next six days together. The first night, we sat with a father and his six-year-old son. The boy did not like what the chef was serving and he clung to his father. After a few minutes, the boy left the table and went to sit on a couch.

The second night, the boy liked what the chef fixed and he sat with us at the table for a little longer. By the end of the week, the young boy was sitting at the table throughout the entire meal and was telling everybody about the horse he rode, what he saw that day and other things he liked to do!

Serving family style meals has many advantages:

  • The children become more independent by dishing up their own foods and pouring their own beverages using child-size serving dishes and pitchers.
  • They get to choose what they eat and how much they want to eat.
  • It enhances their motor skills, social skills, language, self-esteem and table manners.
  • It offers a comfortable and relaxing atmosphere where they can feel free to talk with each other.
  • Adults can sit with the children and talk to them about the different foods while teaching them good eating habits and table manners.
  • Picky eaters will be more willing to try new foods when they see their friends choosing them.

Consider adding family-style dining to your child care program and be sure to encourage the families in your program to have family meals at home!

 

Tags: family-style, meals, dining, food, serving, table manners, self-esteem, conversation, new food

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