Dinnertime - Supporting Your Child's Development

Dinner is often the one part of the day where the whole family comes together. Not only does everyone enjoy gobbling up a delicious meal at dinner, but it’s also a great chance to interact with others and help your child to develop their language skills!

How to Add Language


It’s important for children to build their vocabulary – we need to know lots of words so that we can follow instructions, have conversations with others and complete schoolwork.

At dinner, talk to your child about what you’re seeing and eating. Point to things and hold them on your fork to show your child what you’re talking about. Showing children how to use language helps them learn it! Talk about:

  • Names of foods and utensils
  • What you’re doing with the food
  • What the food looks like
  • How the food tastes
  • How the food feels
  • How the food smells
  • Where the food is compared to the other food

Making requests

At dinner, children have lots of options of what they’d like to eat. This can be a great time to practice asking for things. It’s important we know how to make requests (instead of snatching things!) so we can make friends. Before serving your child’s meal, you can ask them about what they’d like and how much they’d like. If your child responds with a statement, show them how to ask a question (e.g. “you say… can I have peas please?”) and ask your child to copy.

Story Telling

Dinner time is in the evening – the perfect time to share what happened in our day! Knowing how to tell stories is important as it helps children to build friendships as well as recount any important events to others (e.g. incidences in the school yard). Encourage your child to talk about what’s happened in their day and prompt them to include important information including an introduction, middle and conclusion. You can show them how to tell a story by sharing your own story and pointing out the important information (e.g. “Today I went for a walk at the park with Barney – the people in my story are Barney and me”).

Another Activity Idea

Be descriptive

Go around the table and take turns saying a describing word about the meal (e.g. orange, mushy, gross, saucy). You can’t repeat a word someone has already said, and you have five seconds to say a word. The last person left wins! This game is great for making your child think on their toes, use specific language and allows you to use new words they might not have heard of.

We eat dinner every day and it can be a great time to help our child develop their language skills. Next time you have dinner, give some of these ideas a go!

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