Kids & Company Blog

3 Benefits of Family-Style Dining and Why You Should Practice it at Home

March is Nutrition Month and to celebrate, Chef Lisa Ruscica, VP of Culinary Operations and Chief Food Ambassador at Kids & Company shares her thoughts on the benefits of implementing family-style dining at home. We practice family-style dining at a majority of our child care locations and we see our children reap the benefits Chef Lisa lists below!

I know when my children were younger, I always wanted them to develop a closer relationship and build a friendship with one another. Even though siblings may drive each other crazy when they are younger, they really can be some of the closest friends you have when you are older. A way to have your children learn to spend time together and develop their friendship at home is by practicing family-style dining.

What is Family-Style Dining?

Family-style dining at Kids & Company child care

As many of our parents know, Kids & Company practices family-style dining at our child care locations. The benefits are phenomenal and for this reason this type of dining is actually a requirement for our facilities.

With family-style dining, all of the food is placed in serving bowls on the table encouraging children to serve themselves. We usually have one bowl for the protein, another for the carb, one for fruit and one for vegetables. The goal of family-style dining is for children to practice good manners, develop self-help skills and overall, enjoy their meal setting. The children engage with their peers around them as well by taking turns, asking each other to pass the serving bowl or to ask for more of a particular serving. 

With family-style dining, the children will scoop their own portions and pour their own milk. Family-style dining helps children feel pride towards the food they are eating, and it cultivates a shared experience of enjoying wholesome and nutritious meals together. 

Benefits of Family-Style Dining

  • To reap nutritious benefits, make sure you offer a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables on the table. This makes it more likely for your children to include them in their meals. 
  • Practicing allowing your children to serve themselves also promotes their awareness of the appropriate portion size for them and what helps them feel satisfied or full. 
  • Eating together also improves children’s fine motor skills. Child-friendly and developmentally appropriate utensils not only help children foster those fine motor skills, but also develop their independence while enjoying a meal with friends and family.

Why Practice Family-Style Dining at Home?

  • At home, family-style dining can be a great way for your young children to work together and help you in the kitchen. 
  • Depending on their age, they may be able to help you bring the food to the table in the smaller serving bowls, or maybe carry the serving spoons – which will be a much easier clean-up if they are to fall out of little hands! 
  • This whole experience will give your older children the chance to work with their younger siblings. 

If you have older children, they will want to impress you so will enjoy the chance to show you just how helpful they can be. They can help you set the table, assist their younger brother with the hand-over-hand method (they will place their hand over their brother’s or sister’s hand and scoop the portions together), or help their younger sister scrape her plate off at the end of the meal. 

And younger children look up to their older siblings so will love that they are now their focus!

To get started at home, all you’ll need are smaller serving bowls so they are easy for small hands to maneuver and small serving utensils. Salad spoons or small tongs work well for your children. Be prepared for spills! Have a cloth close by. Just remember, that these mistakes now improve the skills over time.

Be sure to try this at home. You’d be amazed at how accomplished and capable your children are!

Elevate Dining at Home:

In honor of Nutrition Month, we are pleased to share that our perk partner, ezpz, is offering 25% off their utensil line to our Kidco community. Their child-friendly and developmentally appropriate utensils are the perfect tool to help develop those fine motor and independence skills! American families can use the promo code FINEMOTOR25 at checkout here, and Canadian families can use the same promo code for ezpz products at checkout here. This code can be used for any ezpz utensil item, including the Tiny Spoons (infants), Mini Utensils (toddlers), Happy Utensils (older toddlers / preschoolers) and Developmental Utensils Set

Are you a Kidco family? Enter for your chance to win a gourmet feast, prepared by the Kidco Kitchen, as well as a $100 ezpz gift card here!

Looking for child-approved recipes? Check out the Kidco Kitchen recipe book – volume 1, here!

This blog was written by Chef Lisa Ruscica, VP of Culinary Operations and Chief Food Ambassador at Kids & Company. Have a picky eater at home? Join us for our upcoming Kidco Talk with Chef Lisa for tips on how to introduce new foods to your child and turn them into fun, adventurous eaters.  Chef Lisa creates all of our Kidco Kitchen recipes served to our children daily; she knows a thing or two about what children will eat! Register for the Kidco Talk here.


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