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Often I have wondered how my work as a teacher overlaps with my conversational consulting at A Table In Time. As it turns out experiencing lunchtime with three and four year olds provides insights for how we as “grown-ups” might enable conversation over a meal. Let me explain.

Once hands are washed, lunch boxes unzipped, sandwich bags and snack packages opened, I sit on a tiny chair at a too short table with my pre-school “cutie-pies”. To assure time together at the table, we set a timer for fifteen minutes, which sometimes feels like a whole day for some! Yet we sit and relax and ease into the break. After a very busy morning, pausing over lunch is essential. The benefits of our meal together scream out!


  • Conversation is extremely entertaining. Whatever “pops in” is what we talk about! There’s not a right or wrong. All topics are accepted for the table (except “potty talk”).
  • Food is chewed slowly. Tastes are savored. Have you ever watched a young child eat, one piece at a time? Some children will stay at the table well past the fifteen minute goal. They enjoy the pause and replenishment.  Don’t adults need this, too?
  • Effort is worth the reward. Inserting a straw into a juice box takes patience. A child’s satisfied face tells me that her effort is worth every happy sip. The same can be said for cooking a meal at the end of the day. Yes, we might need to do some chopping and mixing and reading of a recipe. We might need to shop at the store for the ingredients. With a little effort and a simple menu, however, we can succeed relatively easily at serving a nice meal.
  • Etiquette matters. Admittedly I have one “pet peeve” when the children eat: they must sit correctly on the chair with feet on the floor and food in front of them, on their own placemat. This allows them not be distracted by spilling their yogurt or reaching across the table. When basic manners are in place we can focus on one another.
  • No one objects to eating. Mealtime is such an easy part of our day. The kids look forward to lunch.  Everyone is happy and, it seems to me, grateful.
  • Create community. We enjoy our friends. It’s pure and simple.
  • Rejuvenate our relationships.  After lunch, play is slightly quieter. The kids feel satisfied. They have connected with one another at the table and now they’re ready for more play.

Perhaps it’s true that everything we know, we learned even before Kindergarten. Let’s remember our own happy memories at the table, as a child and bring them forward at this weekend’s A Table In Time.

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