Dinner Table Conversations
Dinner table conversations had been considered as contributor to the learning of the child particularly to the language skills and reading skills. A number of randomly-selected parents were asked to participate in the study by allowing their dinner table conversations to be audio-taped. Their conversations were analyzed and it was found that the dinner table conversations the child has with his parents can be a basis for the learning output of the child.
It has improved vocabulary and reading skills of the child. It can also be an avenue for the development of the social-well being of the child.
It is most probably that the family is complete in gathering during dinner. Because of that, of the three important meals of the day, dinner was viewed to be of importance not in terms of nutritional benefits but of learning. Dinner table conversations have been viewed as an important factor that affects a child’s learning positively. There could be a lot of ways that it could improve language and cognitive learning of the child. First thing that a dinner conversation can do would be to improve the faculty of language of the child. Learning and broadening the knowledge about the language starts early.
It has been said that children speak the language even before they could understand it (Snow and Beals). During dinner, the parents of the child can help the child improve his vocabulary with the parent’s guidance. At dinner, many stories both by the children and the parents are told. In that case, explanatory and narrative talk is what being utilized. Results show that the degree of their explanation and narration depends on the level of vocabulary of the child. It was also found that narrative talks during a young age allow for an easy definition of terms when they get six years older.
Results also showed that narrative talks at a very young age of two can help improve reading skills when the child gets into grade 2. It also showed that explanatory talks are related to the scores the child can get in school. These findings only show that dinner table conversations with both the children and the parents participating on it can improve the language skills of the child by improving his vocabulary and the reading skills. And why wouldn’t it? The parent’s assistance helps them to recognize what they could have said wrong are what exactly are the words they are using.
The parents also guide them to use the appropriate words. The child may use words that he has only heard of from other people of from watching the television and may not understand what it really means. The child would use those words and when the parents could hear of it, the parents could correct improper use of the words and if it is inappropriate to use. The parents also have the option to “filter” the words that the child may use by commanding the child not to use such words or by not introducing such words. Introducing new words is also a good way of improving vocabulary.
Reading skills are improved because the child had already learned of the words and clearly understand what a certain statement conveys. When a child doesn’t understand what the word means, it is more likely that the child wouldn’t understand what he read or heard. These findings also tells that it is good that both the parents and the child are present during the meal especially while the child is very young since the child’s learning at that very young age is critical for the learning output a few years from now.
If the child could start early with his improved language skills, he can do a lot better when he gets older. In some cases though, the contribution of the mother to the child is greater than that of the father probably because the mother is at the primary level of care giving to the child (Ely et. al,). But dinner table conversations not only affect cognitive learning of the child. It could also contribute to the social-well being of the child. The child can see many things from his parents and may look at it as examples.
Parents may consciously shape up to be the best example for the child (Pontecorvo, et al. , 2001). The parents mold their kids through teaching appropriate use of the language. The parent may teach the child how to use words to convey a message that sounds polite and not being rude. Also, by having conversations, the child gets to have a wider perspective of a lot of things and can use those to analyze and critically think over certain things. During conversations, the child is also encouraged to participate by telling what goes through his mind and is encouraged to clarify his thoughts.
That is a very important behavior especially in class. If the social-well being of the child can be molded while they are still young, then, they should be molded while still young. And if this can happen during conversations during dinner, then let it be. This only tells that parents have the responsibility to look forward to the future of their children and prepare them for what they could be. The study was conducted based on random sampling of the family. The study is more focused on the descriptive analysis of the data.
It would be difficult, though, to quantify the results because words or language is involved. The method used to correlate the trend with practical implications was statistical analysis. Their correlation determined what it could contribute towards the conclusion, but, dinner table conversation can really be a basis for the learning output of the child. It is difficult to say, though, that there is an absolute relation between dinner table conversations with both the parents and the child participating on it and the child’s future learning output.
One problem may have risen during the data gathering. It is possible that the parents were being conscious with the way they held their conversations with their children and was aware that they are being taped. In that way, they may have deviated from their natural way of having a conversation within the family. The way they have behaved during the data gathering may be a bit different from how they behave when they are in that unsuspecting mood. They may have tried to be more polite and avoided making rude comments because they want to make an impression.
The age of the children participating in this study was from two to five and a half. The learning output was taken into account several years after the dinner table conversations. The learning output cannot be attributed solely to the dinner table conversations the child had during his earlier years. There are a few questions that are yet to be answered by conducting further researches, like, how long a conversation should be to make it effective?
Does the improvement in language skills due to dinner table conversations encompasses all types of people and all races? ; and would it matter if the parents are not the one present during the dinner and having conversation with the child? This study is very good basis for child development. Because of the findings, perhaps, even the government may promote complete gathering of the family during dinner time. Parents with very young children would surely be interested to start conversations with their child.