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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Parenting Tips: Setting the Table

Helping to set and clear the table is often one of the first family responsibilities parents teach. [Notice I did not use the C word. If you call it a chore it implies something very different than if you call it a family responsibility.] Here are two tricks I have found helpful and that my children and grandchildren have actually enjoyed. 

Starter Placemat:  For the younger set, try this trick. Buy a cheap plain color plastic place mat. Use permanent markers trace the circle of a small size plate in the center.  Now put a dinner plate on that so the spacing is right.  Next place trace a knife and spoon to the right of the plate.  Trace a fork to the left of the plate.  If you regularly use napkins, trace a napkin to the left of the fork.  Trace a circle for a glass or cup above the knife and fork to the right of the plate.  PRESTO.  You have a pattern guide that a young child can use to perfectly set the table. You may not use a bread and butter plate, as this image does but you can leave it out easily.

If you have more than one child... Make a pattern placemat for each and put each child's name inside the circle for the plate to mark their table place.  Perhaps the child can help.  It doesn't have to be perfect to serve its purpose.

Which side?  For kids who have trouble remembering on which side the utensils go... one of many tricks is to use the number... LEFT has 4 letters, so does FORK, forks go on the left. KNIFE has 5 letters, so does RIGHT.  Knife goes on the right.  SPOON has 5 letters so spoon goes on the RIGHT.  It seems cumbersome, but by the time they go through the process several times, it helps the placement become automatic. If you call your drinking item a GLASS, that makes it also fit on the RIGHT, but if you call it a cup or mug you are stuck! :-)

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