Table Talk – Final Thought & Ideas

So I have been talking about this idea of Table talk and the importance of moving what students have learned (especially in their faith) from the Short-term memory, to the long-term memory for retention. Cognitive scientist Daniel T. Willingham says in his book Why Don’t Students Like School that “whatever you think about, that’s what you remember. Memory is the residue of though” (Willingham 61). Memory is the residue of thought… Let that sink in. What we remember is what is left over from what we have been thinking about, so we must be thinking about it to remember it! We do not usually think about many things unless we need to, such as if we are conversing about them.

“Make Mealtime Family Time” is a company devoted to helping families make time for meals together just as Jesus did with his followers. If nothing else, sharing meals is about as Biblical as things can get in terms of early Christian fellowship. They share 10 tips for helping create an atmosphere for mealtime as a family:

  1. Make family mealtime a priority. It may not be easy, but it’s well worth the effort.
  2. At least five meals together each week is the goal. You can start with one meal (breakfast, lunch or dinner at home or out) and work your way up.
  3. Jump-start your family conversation by asking questions like, “What did you like most about your day?” or “What was the best part of your day?”
  4. Involve your kids in the planning, preparation, and serving of the meal.
  5. Get fancy. Periodically, light candles, play relaxing music, and add a tablecloth and flowers.
  6. Slow down and savor the food.
  7. Enjoy mealtime conversation before clean-up begins.
  8. Keep the atmosphere fun, non-confrontational and stress-free by focusing on neutral topics.
  9. Use mealtime as a time to reconnect with your family.
  10. Make mealtime family time while eating meals out too!

Some of the benefits they state for table time as a family include helping you know what’s going on in your kids’ world. It gives kids an edge in school. Reduces kids’ chances of using alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs like marijuana. Fosters more emotionally healthy kids. Reduces the early onset of sexual activity. They have other listed benefits, as well as some they are bound to have missed. These benefits come from researchers on the topic of adolescent growth and health from table time as a family.

To truly make the most of this time as a family, we must be willing to make it a priority. Schedule regular family mealtimes, at least five per week (their recommendation, not mine) where all devices are turned off. No phone. No TV. No other screens. Enjoy a mealtime together without talking about family problem areas, conflicts or discipline issues. Start small though if this is new. Start with one or two nights a week, and work your way up to more. The importance though is being fully present at the meal, and leaving phones and everything else put away.

Finally, let your students see you for who you really are. Let them know and see your flaws, but let them most of all see you striving for a better relationship with God daily. Let them see you “cloth[ing] yourselves with Christ” and being conformed to his image daily (Gal 3:27 NRSV). You cannot lead your children where you are not going yourself. Let them see you walking in the ways of the Lord and have the boldness of the apostle Paul to tell them to imitate you as you imitate Christ (1 Cor 11:1).

We all, your children included, understand new things in the context of what we already know (Willingham 88). It can take years for a deep knowledge to come to fruition, but do not let that dissuade you from helping your children grow. Memory is the residue of thought. Make faith be a regular part of your children’s life through table talk and fellowship.

I love you guys, and so does Jesus. I hope you continue to long for this water, and continue to drink from it as well. Until next time, blessings to you and your family,

Josh Gentry.

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