This week schools across Southampton are celebrating their Christmas meals with over 12,000 pupil’s tucking into turkey, veggie sausages, roast potatoes and seasonal vegetables. Enjoying meals together at Christmas and on theme days is an essential part of the school calendar. Meal times shared with family and friends encourages healthy eating in younger children, promoting literacy development through social interaction.
Mansbridge Primary School's Head Teacher, Mark Sheehan, invited us for Christmas dinner and explained why their festive meal is so important: "We love to bring everyone across the school together for a hearty Christmas meal. Pupils socialise with staff, and it gives everyone the opportunity to get in the Christmas spirit. Seeing the excitement on our children’s faces is priceless!"
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Christmas day is the one day of the year everyone across the country sits around the dinner table to eat, as a family. For the remainder of the year, distractions from handheld technology and the stresses of modern life have disrupted traditional family meal times, resulting in British families only eating together once a week at best.
Turning the telly off and taking the time to sit together as a family has a genuine, tangible effect on a child's future development. Dinnertime boosts vocabulary even more than being read aloud to, with young children learning 1,000 rare words at the dinner table, compared to 143 words from parents reading storybooks aloud. Children who eat regular family dinners also consume more fruits, vegetables as well as fewer fried foods and soft drinks.
Share ideas on how to get the family to sit together at dinner with local Southampton families by leaving a comment on our Facebook page. To learn more about the science behind the positive effects of family mealtimes, explore the conversations detailed article.
From everyone at City Catering Southampton, we hope you and your family enjoy some much needed time together this Christmas and New Year.