How To Teach: Eating at a Sit Down Restaurant and Tipping

functional life skills how to teach life skills special education teachers teacher experience transition May 16, 2022

Importance of Knowing How to Behave in a Sit Down Restaurant and How to Tip


Your students may enjoy a sit down restaurant every week with family, they may go periodically on the weekend with friends, or they may go a couple times a year for special celebrations. Either way, they likely have been and will continue going to sit down restaurants. A sit down restaurant has many of the same behavior expectations as a quick or casual restaurant, but it does require a few extra steps when it comes to paying for the meal, including tipping the wait staff who serve you (or paying gratuity).


Focus Skills

Sit Down Restaurant & Tip Lesson

-How to request a table for everyone you want to eat with


-How to read the menu and decide if you can make changes to the order


-Where the napkin goes when you eat


-What to expect when ordering from a table with waitstaff


-What a tip is


-Basic standards when paying tip


-How to pay (cash) or fill out a payment slip (debit card)


Why Focus On These Skills


Students should have options when it comes to being out in the community and knowing how to handle themselves and pay for a meal at a sit down restaurant is another environment they should learn to be in and feel comfortable enjoying.


When To Teach


If you have the luxury of taking your class to a sit down restaurant for a meal, then definitely cover this concept before you leave. Help them to see how the steps to the meal are different from fast food or casual dining options. They also need to know how paying will be different than when they go to the grocery store or another restaurant. While the concepts are the same, order food, pay, and enjoy, the order is different and students need to know what to expect so they can navigate it appropriately.


I’ve created a complete lesson unit of materials for teaching this topic. The materials are comprehensive (5 full lessons) and most appropriate for life skill lessons at the middle school, high school and transition level students. Below are some lesson unit highlights!


Lesson Objective


Students will fill out the check with tip, total, and signature.


Students will identify the steps of a sit-down (Complete) restaurant experience from requesting a table to paying the bill.


Students will identify and maintain expected behavior appropriate for the environment.


Lesson Vocabulary


Appetizer, booth, clear, gratuity, party, share, signature, substitute, tip, wait


Resource Perks

  • Pre and Post assessment

  • 1 page narrative explaining the skill with and without visual text supports (to incorporate functional reading)

  • 5 skill practice activities to learn and/or reinforce the focus skills

  • Game for students to practice their skills (because learning is fun)

  • Boom Cards for practice or assessment

  • Student learning reflection worksheet (thumbs up or down)

  • Encouraging on-topic quotes (use as a classroom poster or starter for each class period)

  • 5 strategies for success (tips for being successful with the focus skills)

  • Coloring page with on-topic graphics

  • Skill mastery certificate for positive recognition and reinforcement

  • Data collection sheet on specific focus skills

  • Homework sheet to encourage students to practice the skill outside of the school setting

  • Word search of key vocabulary terms

  • Visuals for focus skills with age appropriate colors and graphics


Ultimate Goal


An awareness of how different a sit down restaurant experience is from a fast food restaurant is the ultimate goal of the restaurant. To put it plainly, see the order of steps below to see the difference.


Fast Food Sit Down


-Wait in line -Ask for table


-Order food -Sit, wait, and decide on drink order


-Pay for food -Place drink order


-Wait for food -Wait for drink


-Find table and sit -Enjoy drink, wait, and decide on food order


-Eat food -Place food order


-Clean up table -Wait for food


-Walk out -Enjoy food


-Ask for check


-Give payment


-Wait for payment back


-Sign check


-Walk out of restaurant


Links to Curriculum


Sit Down Restaurant and Tip Lesson Unit


Restaurant Meal Budget Lesson Unit


Order Food at a Restaurant Lesson Unit


Restaurant Manners Lesson Unit


Going to a Restaurant Lesson Unit Bundle


Life Skills Curriculum Bundle


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