AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Amarillo ISD, in partnership with the Panhandle Restaurant Association, is trying to get local families talking around the dinner table, passing out thousands of conversation starter cards to restaurants in the community.
“The Panhandle Restaurant Association is proud to help build stronger families, because we know our businesses are all about service. This project is exciting, what better places to start discussions in our community than over a good meal,” Panhandle Restaurant Association President Kevin Hawkins said.
Parents & Schools In Sync, AISD’s parent engagement series, has been looking at the important role talking has in the development of a strong vocabulary and early literacy skills for young children. The In Sync conversation starter cards, each designed with a different list of questions, are designed to prompt conversation between parents and their children.
“When families go out to eat at a restaurant, it’s easy for all of us to grab our phone or a tablet while we wait for the food to be served,” said AISD Communications Director Holly Shelton. “With this project, we want to really encourage and strengthen family bonds by providing questions and hopefully starting some interesting family conversations.”
According to research, parents who actively engage in conversations with their children not only build a foundation for early literacy, but also help their young kids form and improve relationships, as well as build a strong self-esteem.
“Back and forth family conversation is key for our young learners. We want to encourage parents to keep asking open-ended questions, even when their child gives that one-word answer,” Shelton explained. “Go deeper with your kids, ask them ‘why?’ and have them explain their reasoning.”
Dozens of restaurants in the community have partnered with the district to pass out the In Sync cards to their customers with young children. In three months of circulation, nearly 14,000 of the conversation starter cards have been handed out.
Restaurants interested in participating with this project should contact AISD at (806) 326-1014.