Relationship Matters: Table Manners

I was inspired by a recent email exchange between our Head of School, Megan Nordoff, and a parent of a child enrolled in the Primary Community of MMPSchool. 

Hi Bev and John,
Thought I’d take a minute today to pass along some tidbits from this
week with Marcus.  He’s been very cheerful this week starting with
early Monday morning relaying to us that he went camping and slept on
the top.  He was excited that we had oranges for snack and asked if
they were his oranges from his birthday.  I told him Ms. Nicole
brought them from Florida- he ate 3!  He also said that his Pops is
in Florida.  Late he and a friend did the number rods together,
quantity and symbol 1-5.
On Tuesday, he recognized 4 on the clock and exclaimed, “I am 4!”
and then asked “Am I 4?” to which I let him know “Yes, you will be 4
for a year and then turn 5.”  He looked absolutely flabbergasted!  🙂
He worked with a friend for a little while matching beginning sounds
of objects to the right letter and then went off to climb.  He had to
wait his turn as another friend wanted to climb alone on the
structure.  Ms. Amy reminded him to wait upon the other friend’s
request and he was a little tiffed at Amy for about a minute (arms
crossed and eyebrows furrowed).  He came over to me and showed me her
face.  I asked him if he wanted to tell me something.  He told me
Ms. Amy wouldn’t let him climb.  I reiterated that he could climb
after the friend was finished- she wanted to be alone on the structure
to concentrate on balancing.   He relaxed, got busy with something
else and eventually went back to climbing later.Hope you are having a nice day and hope this sort of info is helpful
to you at home and in communication with the OT.MeganP.S. He was so excited today that he was able to hang his purple
jacket on the coat rack with no help at all!

Megan,
Thank you so very much for this feedback. This is so helpful exactly what we need and truly appreciate your time, courtesy and attention.Please continue to send these updates. We meet with the OT & ST on Weds. mornings.You mentioned on our conference that Marcus often has trouble staying seated at mealtimes. We consistently have the same behavior at home. When you have a moment, could you tell me how you “scaffold” with him in these situations? I want to be consistent with your methods.He seems to be having so much fun at school this week.Thank you for your continuing communication.With our best,
bev & john

Sent from my iPhone

Montessori Snack
Montessori Snack
Hi Bev,

At school he stays seated but if he gets up to get something or go to the bathroom he can get sidetracked not come back with prompting.  Meal times can be difficult because they are sensory-rich so keep this in mind and try to see it from his perspective when you set your expectations.  I would take a look at environmental details first:
* he should be seated comfortably, waist at the table with bare feet touching a surface is optimal
* soft lighting (stay away from fluorescent)
* background music can be a disturbance
* visual distractions on table? keep it as simple as possible
* consistency wherever possible: dishes, sequence, seating arrangement
* timing of meal: is he hungry when you sit down?  after school snacks? is he starting to get tired?
* length of meal?  adults will prefer to sit longer….at lunch he sits for about 20 minutes
* food being served
* his buy in: has he been able to contribute to the meal/experience?
* expectations?  before, during, after?  clear his own dishes, etc.
* conversation: is it pleasant for him?
At school he is expected to take his dishes and scrape and wash his plate after he is finished.  This marks the end of the meal and the child does not return to the table to continue eating after this.  As they master caring for their own dishes then their desire to help expands to assisting with clearing the table and cleaning up the whole room for the next part of the day.   We are currently scaffolding Marcus with staying on task and completing the transition from getting up from the table, scraping, washing and leaving the sink.  He doesn’t complain about it but can get distracted and wanders away before finishing.
Just be sure that whatever limits you set that you’re prepared to stick with and follow through.  At the end of the day it is usually better to lower the expectations slightly since everyone is tired- otherwise you won’t be able to stay consistent on a daily basis.
Megan

Thank you for this, Megan! 
I followed your advice at breakfast & it went (almost 😉 very smoothly.
Very helpful.
Hi Bev,
I’ve been meaning to ask you.  I think this question from you regarding meal time is a pretty common one.  Would you be ok if I changed the names and shared it with others via our BLOG?
Megan

Of course!Sent from my iPhone

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