Hi again, Becky here from Bite of Delight! Instead of sharing a recipe with you today, I want to share some ideas for how to get kids talking about their day. We usually do this at the dinner table (because what doesn’t revolve around food?!), but it can really be done any time you have a quiet moment to talk (in the car, after homework, before bed, etc). I’ve heard so many moms say that they can’t get their kids to open up about what happened at school or their friend’s house or wherever they’ve been. One word answers like, “Nothing.” or “Good.” or even “I forgot.” are all they get. Some kids really are tough and don’t want to talk, but all kids need better questions beyond, “How was your day?” When someone asks me how I’m doing, I don’t usually say, “I’m great, I just got done helping with my son’s Halloween party at school and it was so much fun. We did this great craft that I found on Pinterest and the kids loved it! I totally felt like I won Halloween today.” I usually say, “I’m great, thanks.” We’ve been setting the short answer example for our kids…so it makes sense that they don’t offer us a monologue when we ask, “How was school?” They have also just experienced a lot in their day, especially if they were at school for 6 or 7 hours. That’s a lot of information to process and select from, which is overwhelming. If we can guide the conversation with pointed, specific questions like “Who did you play with at recess?” it can open up a whole line of conversation that probably wouldn’t surface otherwise. Kids have a lot to say, sometimes they just need some help knowing what to say (although, from this picture, you can probably tell that my kids don’t always need prompting)!
There are a lot of great methods and questions to get kids talking, but the one our kids love is “Roses and Thorns.” They get to tell us about the good things (roses) and bad things (thorns) from their day. We don’t have a lot of rules when it comes to what they tell us. They always tend to have a thorn or two, and there’s not always an obvious rose. I don’t like to press them for something happy from their day (I don’t want them to get defensive or clam up), but if they’re struggling to find one, I like to help get their juices flowing with questions like:
- Who did you sit with at lunch?
- What game did you play at recess?
- Did you talk to anyone new today?
- Did anything make you feel happy/excited?
- What was the coolest thing you learned?
- What was your favorite part of school?
- Who were you extra kind to today?
Last night we had two great conversations blossom because of my kids’ “thorns” and they had nothing to do with a bad day. We talked all about crickets and pi! And my kids taught me stuff I didn’t know…like female crickets are bigger than males, and they don’t fly, only the males do. And apparently female crickets are cannibals. I actually keep my phone within reach during dinner (although not at the table), because they tend to ask questions for which I don’t have answers, and that way I can look it up right then and continue the conversation. Like last night when I asked my phone for information about pi, and we learned that the decimal representation of pi, as of this year, is over 13.3 trillion digits.
Jokes are another kid favorite at dinner…even when the younger kids make up nonsense jokes or someone tells a riddle we’ve already heard 17 times! The only rule we have for jokes is that they have to be family-friendly and dinner-appropriate. With three boys, someone always tries telling a bathroom joke, but that doesn’t fly at dinner…I’m trying to raise civilized people here! I’ll even share a few of our favorites to get you started:
- Q: What did the caveman have for dinner? A: Primordial Soup. (my 5th grader made this one up! Google the answer if you’re like me and couldn’t remember your science vocab very well.)
- Q: What is an astronaut’s favorite key on the keyboard? A: The space bar.
- Q: How does a dog stop a video? A: By pressing the paws button.
- Q: What do you call a fly without wings? A: A walk.
- Q: What starts with E, ends with E, and has only one letter? A: An envelope.
- Q: Why was the math book sad? A: It had too many problems.
What are your favorite ways to get the conversation started? Leave a comment below! And be sure to check out some of our family’s favorite meals, because good conversation deserves good food!