Mealtime chats improve children’s communication

Talking together as a family at the dinner table boosts children's confidence, suggests survey

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Children who sit down with their parents at mealtimes and engage in conversation are more likely to be better communicators, a new survey finds.

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The survey, conducted by The National Literacy Trust, asked nearly 35,000 children and young people about their mealtime habits and found that two-thirds of children who talk with their families at mealtimes feel confident to speak in front of a group.

The survey also found that children who don’t engage in regular talk at mealtimes are less likely to put their hands up in class and feel less confident working in a team.

According to the data, sitting down as a family at mealtimes is not enough – those children who do sit at the dinner table but never or rarely talk also suffer negative attitudes towards communication.

The encouraging news is that most families (87% of those surveyed) said they got together at mealtimes and of those, most (72%) engage in conversation.

The National Literacy Trust is campaigning to improve these figures by “taking simple steps like chatting together at mealtimes.”

“Our research shows just how vital conversation at home is to the future success of our children and young people,” says the trust’s director Jonathan Douglas.

“Talking and communication at home, for example at mealtimes, will help children gain the skills they need for a successful and happy life.”

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