How to Make Family Dinners Happen More Often

You’ve probably seen news stories sharing the benefits of family dinners. Maybe you’ve even made a New Year’s resolution to eat more dinners together. Perhaps you’d like to eat more family dinners, but don’t feel like you have the time to make it happen.

The Family Dinner Project was created to help families take advantage of what research has shown and what parents have long known: sharing a meal as a family helps everyone’s health, mind, and spirit. Children whose families regularly eat together have higher grade-point averages, higher self-esteem, and lower rates of substance abuse, teen pregnancy, eating disorders, and depression.

The Family Dinner Project provides lots of resources to help you get started, including:

  • Recipes that fit in your busy schedule
  • Ways to add some fun to dinner preparation and at the table
  • Conversation starters and questions to get your family talking
  • Links to other resources for food, fun, and conversation
  • A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section to help you make it happen

Researchers have found that families that eat dinner together five nights per week get the greatest benefits, but even adding one more meal per week together can help. Your family dinner doesn’t have to be dinner either—if a Saturday lunch together after a busy morning out or a Sunday brunch works for your family, it can still work as a “family dinner.”

Head to The Family Dinner Project to start planning how you can get your family together around the table more often.


Organizing an IEP Binder

Any parent who has attended an Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting for their child can tell you what an overwhelming and confusing experience it can be. Understood, a website in English and Spanish dedicated to helping parents support their child with special needs, has resources to create an IEP binder.

An IEP binder provides parents with a great way to track their child’s progress and keep key information readily at hand during IEP meetings. Understood suggests including:

  • IEP Binder Checklist
  • School Contact Sheet
  • Parent-School Communication Log
  • IEP Goal Tracker

Downloadable versions of all of the above are also provided, as well as a short video on how to put it all together and use it.

Understood also suggests using six tab dividers to separate materials into communication, evaluations, IEP, report cards and progress notes, sample work, and behavior. They also suggest including a supply pouch to ensure you have pens, sticky notes, and highlighters readily available at your meeting. You might also consider including the list of over 500 accommodations for an IEP or 504 plan from A Day in Our Shoes that Illinois PTA has highlighted before.

What Am I?

I am the link which unites and presents a clearly defined image of PTA work to the community.


I provide strong, inspiring leadership.


I am understanding and compassionate to unit problems.


I work with the district board realizing that through cooperation, we may achieve the purposes of the PTA.


I refrain from legislating for units.


I shall not dictate to units.


I interpret the basic PTA policies in a friendly, impersonal manner, noting that units abide by their bylaws.


I counsel with courtesy and perception, knowing that each unit is autonomous.


I give PTA information in a clear and easily understood manner.


I start my meetings on time and use parliamentary procedure to ensure a fair and just meeting.


I work within the framework of the PTA purposes, mission, and vision, recognizing that they are the foundation of all PTA work.


I keep my units informed concerning deadlines on National PTA and Illinois PTA grants, reports, awards, registration forms, and bylaws.


I stay informed on PTA legislation and share my experience and information with the units, realizing that sharing is an important part of leadership and my obligation to the members.


I abide by my bylaws and urge local units to do the same.


I present programs, demonstrating technique along with information.


I plan informative leadership development seminars.


I use National PTA and Illinois PTA resources in my work.


I try at all times to be big enough to overlook pettiness, small enough to ask for help when needed, and above all, to practice what I preach.


I lead by example.


I am a PTA Council.

What Kids Wish Their Parents Knew About Their Online Life

Ana Homayoun, author of Social Media Wellness: Helping Tweens and Teens Thrive in an Unbalanced Digital World, shared the results of her interviews with middle and high school students about the things they don’t feel they can tell their parents about their online life, but wished their parents knew in a recent Washington Post article. The three things they wanted their parents to know were:

  • When you take away one device at night, you might not realize how many devices we still have with us.
  • Many of us have a fake Instagram account.
  • If we are passionate or angry about something, we take it to social media.

Also coming from the interviews were four things they wished their parents would do:

  • Talk with us about the apps we like to use and why. Most of you have no idea about our world.
  • Help us keep an eye on who is following us.
  • Accept that there are lots of good things on social media—it is not all bad stuff.
  • Talk with us about sexting and healthy relationships in a way that isn’t awkward.

The article at the Post provides additional information on each of these points. You will also be able to learn more about dealing with tweens, teens, and their digital world at the 2018 Illinois PTA Convention May 4-5, 2018 at the NIU-Naperville Conference Center. Our keynote speaker at convention will be Devorah Heitner, author of Screenwise: Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive) in Their Digital World. In addition to her keynote, Dr. Heitner will be presenting a workshop and signing copies of her book.