Eating together as a family has many benefits. It is a great opportunity to spend some time together and the perfect place to learn some of the skills required to socialize well later in life. Creating structure around the main meal of the day can particularly benefit families with members who have a learning disability, is on the autism spectrum or have a cognitive impairment. We have a simple dinner routine: 1. Wash hands 2. Prepare the meal and set the table 3. Ring the dinner bell 4. Serve and 5. Eat.
I have been looking for place mats that help kids to learn how to set the table. They are a great memory aid and make it easier to learn where the silverware and glass goes. I found a set at Ikea, the Klistrig multicoloured place mat £2 / 4 pack. Excellent. We have been using them for two weeks and so far so good. They are made from recyclable polypropylene plastic and protect the table quite well from both wear and small spills.
The only point to note is when using this type of place mat is that anyone who needs precision will require the plate, cutlery and glass to perfectly match the outline. If you using standard size adult cutlery and plates, this should not be a problem, our cutlery fits perfectly, but the children smaller cutlery does not.
For crafters, these place mats can also be home made. There are many free print patterns on-line, like these templates. Make your own and laminate it for durability.