Eating Together: It Matters

“Children who eat with their families have stronger vocabularies than those who do not. They do better in school.”


That quote comes from a short NYTimes Sunday Magazine article that appeared today. It’s a great article, and one that doesn’t surprise me. It did get me to think about all the school reform efforts and studies underway to try to link student performance to teacher pay.

Of course I wouldn’t be a teacher if I didn’t think I could contribute somewhat to a child’s academic and social development. I play, however, only a small part in that development. Too many other factors such as genetics, family life, affluence, the influence of different teachers, and many others also contribute. All of those things are beyond my control. As a classroom teacher, the students I have see me for one academic school year. They may, however, see the same amazing subject specialist for 6 years. How does one go about creating comparable metrics on something like that? It’s an interesting question, but one that is too complex for me to even consider. Do I really want my paycheck linked to whether or not a child eats dinner together with his or her family? I don’t think so.


2 thoughts on “Eating Together: It Matters

  1. I can’t agree more (with the NYT article). No wait, I can agree more. it’s just difficult. And it’s rare that I agree with the NYT

    I have to wonder, though, if any families eat together any more (let’s not count McDonalds). (Readers, let me know.)

    I’m not sure I understand your last lines: “Do I really want my paycheck linked to whether or not a child eats dinner together with his or her family? I don’t think so.”

    It’s not just eating together, it’s being together. I’ve seen far too many parents walking through stores and malls with the kid a step behind, furiously twiddling on some tiny video game. My wife reports seeing families in a restaurant, with both parents on cell phones. (There’s a great YouTube of a young woman (20-something) walking through a mall, texting, and waking directly into a fountain pool.)

    Parents have (or used to have) a primary job in child-rearing. Schools pass on information to the next generation, but parents (and kin) pass on culture and values. It’s probably no small wonder why the younger generation has little or no concept of culture and values.

    This morning, after church service, the pastor was telling the congregation about a young boy he was working with on words and spelling. He said they were doing “D” words. The kid got the usuals, “dog”, door”, &c, then came up with “dumb”. Pastor asked where that came from. The kid said, “I’m dumb”. Pastor asked where he came up with that idea. Kid said “May father says so”.

    Who are these “amazing subject specialists”? I have no connection with the K-12 world.

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