In our busy and oversubscribed lives, it is often the little, but important things that end up being sacrificed. I was pleasantly surprised when this morning upon being asked during our school assembly how many children eat at the table, a vast majority raised their hands. Why the importance you may wonder. One just has to take a look around a family restaurant to see evidence or lack thereof that less and less time is spent teaching children the value and importance of good table manners and effective communication. The dinner table is the perfect place to do this.
While running the risk of sounding decidedly “old-fashioned”, besides teaching manners eating together creates a climate for conversation. It is in this moment where we can share our highs and lows of the day, share stories about who we are and where we have come from – a strengthening of family ties. It is a moment to slow down and to practise real listening skills. The art of face-to-face conversation is on the decline as more and more communication takes place online. In so saying what are some of these valuable skills we need to model and impart to our children?
- Encourage eye contact
- Speak clearly and slowly – use the correct pronunciation
- Take turns and don’t interrupt (that’s a difficult one even for adults)
- Pay attention and don’t become distracted
- Respond appropriately
- Enter conversations in a polite manner
- Ask questions to gain clarity
- End conversations in a polite manner
Children learn best by observing and imitating so while they are young let us take the time to talk “with” them – not to them and not at them!
Sharon Moore (Head of ECD; Blouberg Prep campus Principal)