A way to manage your children from bothering you when you’re preparing meals is to get them to help you set the table. It’ll give them a sense of purpose and responsibility. It’ll also make them feel like they are contributing to a happier mealtime and helping around the house like a grownup.
The simplest way to help them set the table properly is by drawing it up on a large piece of paper with outlines of the utensils and plate. The outlines help them to identify where the cutleries, cups and plates should be placed. The outlines on a piece of paper double as a placemat. Get the kids to decorate their own ‘placemat’ if they are still restless.
Once they are adept at place setting, you can remove the drawn layouts/ placemats. Chances are the kids may want it to stay! You can even add tiny decor items to the table by letting them place napkins with napkin rings.
Here are two table-setting placemats to print out or model from:
There is also another trick to help young children remember where to place the cutleries. A fork goes to the left of the plate. L-E-F-T and F-O-R-K have four letters in each. On the right of the plate is where the knife and spoon are. R-I-G-H-T, K-N-I-F-E and S-P-O-O-N have five letters in each.
The kicker? The utensils are also arranged in an alphabetical order. Fork, knife, and then spoon!
To reward for helping out or to get them interested in place setting, tell them a story of how the practice came about. According to Mom’s Choice Awards, place setting came from the French. Centuries ago, a French courtier discovered that it’s easier to concentrate on eating if the utensils such as the fork and the spoon are placed right where it could be seen and reached. Voila!