As in most other schools, dining is an important part of HTS life. I try and get to lunch every day and walk around to chat with students about how the food is or how their morning has been. It is also a good way to make sure they are eating a well-balanced meal. We insist on good manners and make sure that they clean up after themselves and that they take their turn with the various duties that have to be done. Not saying please and thank you is a big deal at HTS.
With music lessons, sports practices, play rehearsals, homework and busy work schedules, it can be difficult for families to gather together for an evening meal but it is becoming more and more important. Recent research shows that eating as a family has great benefits for teenagers and younger children. For example, sitting together five times a week, whether for breakfast, lunch or dinner has been shown to improve communication, wellbeing, and manners. Children who don’t eat dinner with their parents at least twice a week are more likely to be overweight, and children who eat dinner with their parents five or more times a week do better at school, have less trouble with drugs and alcohol, eat more healthily, and are closer to their parents.
I was shocked to learn that in North America the average adult eats one in every five meals in the car! If this wasn’t bad enough, a quarter eat at least one fast food meal every day, and the majority of families report eating a meal together fewer than five days a week. They are missing out on what could be meaningful time with their loved ones, but it’s more than that. Not eating together also has negative effects both physically and psychologically, as family meals can be a bonding experience for everyone as they foster warmth, and love, as well as feelings of belonging.
Conversations during the mealtime provide opportunities for the family to plan, connect, and learn from one another. And for parents, mealtime provides a chance to share the news of the day, and give extra attention to their children. And what a great time to help them with table manners, meal etiquette, and social skills.