When you think of family meals, what picture pops into your head? Even though family meals may mean something different to everyone, the benefits are indisputable. The Society for Research in Child Development has outlined the following outcomes. Family meals provide time for families to connect socially. It is a great time to find out what is going on with family members. Family meals are a time for adults to be a role model for good nutrition. Research shows that children who eat meals with their families tend to be less obese and less likely to develop an eating disorder. They also tend to eat more nutritious foods. Children who take part in regular family mealtimes have more vocabulary growth and academic achievement than those who don’t. In families with young children, eating together often results in fewer behavior problems.
Think back to that picture in your head of a family meal…now, think outside the box. With school, work, sports, and numerous other events, finding time to sit down to dinner every night is a challenge. Have you considered making school meals a family meal time?
This is probably not something you would do on a regular basis, but a few times a year would still benefit you and your children. Being involved in your children’s education also has numerous benefits. Research shows that children are more successful in school when their parents are involved. When parents and their children talk often about school, children do better in school. Children whose parents are involved in their education get better grades, have better attendance, and have better behavior. One way to be involved is to have a physical presence at school. Doing this during a meal will allow you to observe and interact with your child’s friends, meet school staff in an informal setting, and experience the food served at school. School meals have undergone many positive changes. You will be pleasantly surprised by the healthy options available for breakfast and lunch. Breakfast is an ideal meal time to share with your child at school. Research shows that children who eat breakfast are ready-to-learn, are higher academic achievers and better behaved. Eating breakfast at school saves you time, money and gives you a quality family experience with your children.
If you decide this is something you would like to do, contact your child’s teacher and/ school nutrition department to ask about the possibility of joining your child for a meal. Schools have many policies and procedures in place for the safety of our children, so you will need to work out the details in advance.