In Health 9 we have started the unit of Family & Social Health. We are currently learning about Family. I sent out an email today to inform you all about the following assignment I have given the freshman.
The assignment is to "Have dinner with your family a minimum of three times". During the meal, there should be no distractions (television, texting or answering cell phones, playing games, etc.). After each of the three meals, they should record their observations by considering the following questions: What was the conversation about? Was anything meaningful discussed? Did everyone get a chance to talk about themselves? Was it awkward? Did you learn anything new about your family?
After they have had three meals with your family, they will write a journal about those three experiences referencing some of the observations you recorded. Other questions for them to write about include: Was this assignment easy because you almost always eat meals together or difficult because you rarely if ever eat meals together? Share your thoughts and feelings about whether or not you like eating meals with your family and why. What was it like to have no distractions? Was that difficult or easy to do?
This assignment is due November 28th at 11:59pm. I have told them that Thanksgiving meals can count as long as there are no distractions allowed. I also told them that it doesn't matter what they are eating as long as you are all together and there are no distractions. Another thing is that it is okay if everyone is not able to be at the dinner each time. I realize everyone is busy and have different schedules so it is not possible for everyone to be at dinner.
Rational for this Assignment:
The Importance of Eating Together
Do family dinners have any scientific benefits?
Over the past 15 years researchers have confirmed what parents have known for a long time: sharing a family meal is good for the spirit, the brain and the health of all family members. Recent studies link regular family dinners with many behaviors that parents pray for: lower rates of substance abuse, teen pregnancy and depression, as well as higher grade-point averages and self-esteem. Studies also indicate that dinner conversation is a more potent vocabulary-booster than reading, and the stories told around the kitchen table help our children build resilience. The icing on the cake is that regular family meals also lower the rates of obesity and eating disorders in children and adolescents. What else can families do that takes only about an hour a day and packs such a punch?
We’re just so busy. How can we find the time to cook and eat together?
Time is certainly one of the biggest obstacles to families gathering for dinner. One good strategy is to cook a big batch of soup or a double batch of a casserole over the weekend, and then freeze some to make weekday dinners easier. Some meals can be thrown together quickly with help from store-bought ingredients, like pre-cut veggies, or a pre-made pizza dough. There are also many recipes that take less than 15 minutes.
If you think of family dinner as a time to nourish your family, prevent all kinds of problems, increase your children’s cognitive abilities, and provide pleasure and fun that they can build on for the rest of their lives, a nightly meal is an efficient use of time.
Is it wrong to eat dinner in front of the television?
Making a steady diet of eating family dinners in front of the TV would certainly interfere with the pleasures and benefits of conversation. Researchers have found that meals eaten in front of the TV do not carry the same mental health benefits as those eaten “unplugged.” Certainly, it would be fine occasionally to watch a special program while eating a family meal. In addition, talking about a program as a family could provide benefits as well.
Tips for Conversation
I always run out of things to talk about with my teenager. How can I get past “I’m fine”?
It can be a challenge to get teenagers involved in family dinner discussions. Many of our one-line conversation starters are fabulous for helping them open up, including, “What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever eaten?” and “Did anyone read anything interesting online or in the newspaper today?” Teenagers also enjoy discussing public figures they like, including sports heroes, artists, actors, and politicians. If your teenager could have one person over for dinner (living or dead), who would it be? What would they talk about? What would they serve?
Presenting a morally ambiguous or thought-provoking situation is a great way to spark conversation. Present one of our “Conversations of the Week” at dinner, and ask your teenagers to give their opinion. There’s often not a clear “right” or “wrong” answer, so these should generate some interesting debates.
Additionally, it’s often helpful to speak about your own experiences of the day in a way that is honest and self-disclosing, perhaps revealing something that was embarrassing or challenging. This will provoke your son or daughter into honestly sharing their own experiences. You might even repeat a joke that you heard at work, in order to lighten the mood.
There is nothing else you need to do for this assignment other than supporting your child and helping them to reach their 3 meals with their family.
Thank you for your support with this assignment.