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Report claims mealtime conversation aids children's communication skills

02/08/2013 Joanna
Primary and secondary teachers may find pupils who chat at home with their families at mealtimes are more communicative in the classroom too, according to a new survey.

Under the new national curriculum, due to come into effect from 2014, increased emphasis is to be placed upon speaking and listening skills in primary schools.

The National Literacy Trust believes pupils' performance in this area will partly reflect the extent to which they communicate with their families at home.

It surveyed 34,910 children and young people and found 87 per cent of them sit down with their families to eat and 74.2 per cent talk with their families at mealtimes daily, while 14.4 per cent do so at least a few times per week.

However, 7.1 per cent of respondents revealed they rarely converse with their families around the dinner table, while 30.4 per cent said they spend more time online or watching TV than they do talking to parents and siblings.

The trust's study also found pupils who do speak with their families during meals are more confident than their peers in putting up their hands in class, joining in discussions, speaking in front of a group and working as part of a team.

Furthermore, these children are more likely to value good communication skills, with a significant majority crediting these as giving them confidence in social situations and recognising their potential future value in helping them to find a job.

They were also slightly more likely see speaking and listening as the skills most necessary to succeed in life, although over half of the children surveyed cited either one of these to be the most valuable skill to possess, ahead of maths, reading, writing and ICT.

Breaking the survey findings down shows girls are slightly more likely than boys to talk with their families during meals, while the tendency for children generally to do so increases between key stages two and three, although it tends to subsequently decline.

Pupils from deprived backgrounds are meanwhile less likely to engage in discussion with their families while eating and this practice is also less common among Black children it is among White, Asian and mixed pupils.

Posted by Alan DouglasADNFCR-2164-ID-801620576-ADNFCR
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