Eat Out at Home!

Open a hip new restaurant in your own house! Invite friends or family over for dinner, then put your child to work transforming your kitchen into a cool café! This kind of experiential play increases creativity, literacy, and math skills – plus it gives you an opportunity to teach your kids about health and nutrition!

  • Decide what’s for dinner together! Sit down together with a few recipe ideas and plan a well-balanced meal, with your child writing down or drawing pictures of what you need at the store. Ask school-age kids to keep track of how much you’re spending while you shop.
  • —>Why It Matters: This kind of teamwork gets an A+! Research shows that 58% of teens have dinner with their family at least five times a week. Those kids are more likely to get As and Bs in school compared to teens who share dinner with their families three or fewer times a week. (Recommended for all ages)

  • Play the name game! If your family dinner time were a restaurant, what would its name be? A combo of your family’s names? An ode to a favorite pet? Once the restaurant name is settled, pick crazy names for what’s on the menu.
  • —>Why It Matters: What a fun way to strike up conversations with your kids! Not only do you deepen your connection when you chat together, but one Harvard study of kids ages 3 to 15 showed that dinner-table discussions are important for children’s language development. (Recommended for ages 6-9)

  • Cover the basics! Make family meals feel and look more like a restaurant outing. Put your child in charge of making menus, designing placemats, setting the table, folding napkins, and filling water glasses.
  • —>Why It Matters: When kids have useful roles and responsibilities at home, their schoolwork benefits. Research from Columbia University shows kids learn to share, feel more motivated at school, have fewer discipline problems, and become better problem-solvers at school. (Recommended for ages 10-13)

  • Hire a small restaurant staff! Talk about all the people required to run a restaurant and assign jobs to your family. The sous-chef can help with recipe steps, like mashing potatoes or measuring milk. A host or hostess can welcome guests and show them to their seats. The server can set the table, hand out menus, and take orders.
  • —>Why It Matters: Working, playing, and eating together are key ingredients for raising healthy kids. In fact, when teens have dinner with their families five or more nights a week, they are half as likely as other kids to abuse drugs and alcohol. (Recommended for all ages)

  • Let your child throw a pizza party! Buy pizza crust and sauce, then let your kid top it with a unique combo of cheese, meat and veggies. Try a fruit pizza, too, using cream cheese, berries and bananas. These perfect pizzas are sure to draw lots of ooohs and aaaahs from your dinner guests!

    —>Why It Matters: Your child will have a blast perfecting his pizza. But more importantly, research shows all that creativity inspires kids to think outside the box, be unique, practice finding creative ways to solve problems, and take pride in something they created! (Recommended for ages 6-9)

    Take it a step further! —>Use our Table Time! Family Dinners Toolkit to get everything you need to plan the perfect family meal. Get toolkit >>

  • 5

    These are unique, wonderful ideas!
    For a related article, “Is Family Mealtime Important?” click below for a direct link:

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