Something I wrote responding to a pre-Snook unschooling question, back in 2004:
“Do the rest of you guys feel a formal mealtime is important?”
I used to worry about this, until I gradually realized that we do eat together (or at least in close proximity) all the time, and it’s great, though I wouldn’t call it formal.
Or “mealtime” exactly. 🙂
I think the set family dinner may have sprung from the same schoolish context as tv limits.
In a schooling family, especially one with traditionally employed parents, what other regular family time is even possible, much less likely? It takes a major commitment by each family member, maybe sacrifice of other enjoyable plans and choices, to manage formal dinnertime together regularly.
Imo this is similar to the schoolish idea of screen time as an unacceptable interference with homework, or with the tiny remaining slivers of afternoon into which schooled children must shoehorn all outdoor activity and pursuit of individual interests.
But in our unschooling, we’ve found such unnecessary contrivance isn’t, well, necessary!
All the worthwhile goals of formal mealtime — togetherness, parental modeling, companionable conversations and of course sufficient ingesting of varied and nutritious foodstuffs 🙂 — can be achieved by unschoolers *without* the actual mealtime, just as we can achieve the goals of healthy outdoor activity and plenty of time for pursuits of interest without limiting tv.
I remain astonished (after a decade or more, depending on how I count it) at what falls naturally into place, if a family can just break the gravitational pull of “school” and chart its own path through time and space. JJ