There was a study done with Rhodes Scholars; What commonality did they have? What makes them so smart? The one thing they found they had in common was NOT high school AP classes, leadership roles, church attendance, music abilities, or even taking vitamins. The one thing they had in common was they sat down with their family at dinnertime on a regular basis.
Thinking back to my childhood, Mom made us breakfast every day, made us sack lunches, and dinner was always at 6:00 every night. Were we great scholars? No, but we were a close family that gathered nightly to share news of the day, to pray and thank the Lord, and to eat a home cooked meal.
Eating dinner has been a habit that spilled over from my growing up, but after reading that article, it became my passion! Our dinner table is a sacred place for me. One that I try to protect from busy schedules, sports practices, video game time, etc. Sitting down together allows us to regroup, practice our social and etiquette skills, hear about different topics ranging from the news, politics, to our family and gospel standards, and give reminders why we love each other.
Here are some other things we do ‘Round the Table;
- Our napkin holder stands as a mailbox on our table. I print out emails from friends, grandparents and church missionary friends. It’s nice to read together the news from people that we love and care about. Often a cup with pens and paper comes out and everyone will hurry and write a five minute letter that we can send back. (see “Conversation in a Can” Article)
- Many times the kids will have their friends over—I give them each an apron and they help wash, chop, sauté, and create things for dinner. Prepping a meal together opens up all kinds of conversations. It’s a great way to really get to know your children’s friends!
- Often when we have lots of left-over’s the kids play restaurant. They print Menu’s on the computer, name the restaurant, take orders, and serve our family. It’s great fun!
- We love to read at dinner. The scriptures, short stories, the Reader’s Digest, or chapter books have all been popular. I remember fondly my Dad reading The Richest Man in Babylon to our family growing up. There were many money discussions after that!
- The kids read papers they have written or reports they are working on. We have our “Change the World” presentation once a week. (See “Change the World”) We have also filled a binder with our favorite authors and illustrators that we discuss over dinner.
- There is a world map on our wall in the kitchen. It usually has some sort of stickers or pictures showing where someone has been or where certain animals are from, or even famous landmarks of the world. (see “Put Up a Map” article)
- One of our favorite things to do is invite people over! We love to hear about their travels, ideas, or to teach us how to cook. We love to have people share their lives or talents with us.
As we meet for dinner we are improving our conversation skills and building our brains. Our children learn to listen to others and ask good questions, all the while passing the mashed potatoes and gravy.
One thing we’ve noticed in the many place we’ve lived, people love to get together to share a meal. They love to share their favorite foods and stories. They long for it, in fact. They miss that friendship that seems to have disappeared with our drive-thru- fast food- on my way to something else society.
In a time when there are more child and youth activities than ever at night; sports, classes, church activities, or meetings it is time to take back our table and carve out a time for families. Pencil dinner in on your calendar tonight, there is nothing more important than sharing that time ‘round the table.