Most of those who I come in to contact with know that I am a ‘talker’. Only my hardy friends will come to the cinema with me, because I chat. I have many, many words that I need to use each day! I definitely need time to be on my own, but I certainly need time to chat as well.
My daughter is exactly the same as me. She needs her time to “alax” (“relax”) where she just sits on her bed and read for a little time, but when she is with you she is pretty much a constant stream of words and song.
I am a big supporter of going to bed at the same time as your husband and I am a believer in the massive benefits of chatting together over dinner. We spend a lot of time with our families when they first come to us looking at their schedule. We determine motivations and quality of relationships, together with the commitments of life, and begin with small lifestyle and schedule changes. In fact Shelley and I have time today to review our own, which is something we do every six months to keep life healthy. One of the changes we pretty much always make is to meal times. We recommend a certain number of meal times spent together as a whole family, as parent and child dates and as a couple or with significant people in our life. For example, I try to share one dinner time a week with my sister and Ludo and I schedule one dinner a week and one breakfast a week just us. Over breakfast we have a specific, pre-planned chatting ‘agenda’ and our carved our time for dinner each week is simply a social touching base time. We ensure that we spend four meal times each week as a whole family and two out of three meal times each day are spent with at least one parent and both children. There is no TV, no phones and we often have tangible things to chat about such as photos or items from our day. With our families who are running programmes for their teens with struggles, meal time is often the space where we practice particular language skills in a natural way.
You can imagine how excited I am then at the research just completed by the National Literacy Trust (July 2013). They have confirmed that, “mealtime chatter helps boost children’s communication skills”. The poll of 35, 000 UK children reveals that children whose families sit and talk during meals are more confident, but that one in every four children misses out on daily mealtime chats with their families. Although it says that children miss out, it really is the adults who miss out too. Mealtime chatter is a time where we can put aside our day, even if just for twenty minutes, to immerse ourselves in the worlds of our children and our family. It is often the time where struggles are aired and pleasures shared.
Children aged 8 to 16 years, from 188 schools across the UK, completed the questionnaire in their classrooms late last year. Check back next week for the results!