The dinner table is the perfect place to catch up on everyone’s day and enjoy a good old natter while also boosting speech and language development and encouraging good listening. Not to mention, it can help keep their bum firmly on their seat – helping to stop them from becoming distracted and getting up and down like a yo-yo! But sometimes just getting kids to eat takes every ounce of effort you have without having to think up conversation starters too! Whether you’re dining at home or heading out to a restaurant I’ve put together five effective prompts to encourage little ones to get chatting.
- Give everyone the opportunity to tell the family what the best part of their day has been. Asking a specific question like this gives children some direction as opposed to simply asking ‘how was your day’? Also, unless they are very forthcoming, then it can be a good idea to start by talking about your day first. Try changing up the question each day: What made them laugh/smile? Who did something nice for them? Or what did they do nice for somebody else? What was the best thing they played? If it’s breakfast time, perhaps try asking what they are most looking forward to about the day?
- Use what’s on your plate to inspire conversation. Ask your children where they think the food has come from and who helped to get it there! Talk about the different ways the food gives you energy, makes your bones strong, protects you from getting sick!
- Make mealtimes fun - go around the table and take it in turns to each say one word or line of a story. Ask silly questions - If you were a dog, what would your name be? If you had a genie for a day, what three things would you wish for? Play a game of ‘Would you Rather’ - Would you rather be a fish in the sea or a bird in the sky? Would you rather be a carrot or a pea?
- Use the table as a learning opportunity – invite them to count how many carrots/potatoes/broccoli stalks they have on their plate (perhaps avoid the peas or you might be there all night long). If they are a little older you could get them to add up how many of said vegetable there are on the table altogether. Get them to name the different colours and shapes on their plate or play ‘I spy’ – I spy something ‘red’, I spy something ‘round’. See how many different words you can come up with to describe the food. Is it crunchy, soft, sweet, smooth? This is great for helping to expand their vocabulary.
- Try telling them a story and then inviting them to ask questions in relation to that story. For example – how their grandparents met, the moment you found out you were having a baby and how you shared the news, a family outing/day trip/holiday. This a lovely way to encourage storytelling and share happy memories while helping them learn about thoughts and feelings.
If you’re off out for dinner and on the hunt for ideas for keeping the kids entertained so you can enjoy your meal in peace then check out the Eating Out playPROMPTS! HERE.