There was a movement a while back promoting the idea that the federal government should supply every family in the U.S. with a kitchen table. It's a good idea. A lot happens around the kitchen table. It is a place to develop family value foundations. There are conversations, card games, craft projects, eating and cooking, being together, and slipping the family dog a treat. Homework and bills are done at the table. Holiday meals with family and friends make the kitchen table a hearthstone for family memories. It's a healthy place to be.
At High Trails Outdoor Education Center, the first meal we serve to school groups is always a mess. Many students don't have the chance to sit down with a family back home or have kitchen table norms to set expectations. It is loud, chaotic, messy, confusion over passing, and lots of refills. By the end of the week, students are working together at their tables like well-oiled machines (probably motivated by hunger). We hope students will be the impetus in their own homes to get everyone around the table for dinner or a little dance.
There is a great resource providing suggestions for how the kitchen table can influence child behavior and development.