How many dinner conversations start like this:?
Parent: How was your day at school?
Parent: Well that’s good. What did you learn?
Clearly, this was not the conversational spark that you were looking for. We ask our children these questions to become more apart of their lives; to understand them better. But what are the right questions to ask to involve them in this complex verbal exchange of information, to cultivate curiosity, and enhance language skills?
In honor of the years most anticipated dinner, Thanksgiving, here are some other questions to ask your kids at dinner, that will really spark conversation.
1). Best and Worst- This is a favorite, not just on Thanksgiving... but every day. Ask your child What’s the best thing that happened today? and What’s the worst thing that happened today? It gives them a chance to be proud of themselves (e.g. “I got an A on my science test”) and also a chance to be humbled (e.g. “My team lost in gym class”). Be prepared to be amazed about how much your child will reveal with this simple question.
2). Favorite things on your plate- For Thanksgiving dinner, likelihood is that there will be options. Have your child choose top three favorite foods and describe the taste and texture of each. Use descriptive words and adjectives (a great task for toddlers!) that expand your child’s vocabulary. Who knows, maybe someone else at the table can convince your child that brussels sprouts really are delicious!
3). What’s the grossest thing you’ve ever eaten?- Every child has had at least one bad experience with food. How did they react at that first taste of not-so-good something? What were their thoughts before tasting it? What would it take for them to try it again? or... What food would you wish didn’t exist? Some kids are notoriously dreading the vegetables. Others the protein! You may have an idea of your child’s picky eating habits, but choosing just ONE food that they could avoid forever? You might be surprised...
4). Money and Food- It can be comical how younger children conceptualize money. Ask How much money do you think the turkey cost? the stuffing? or What’s the most/least expensive food on the table? For younger kids, teaching concepts of more/less is great language stimulation. For the older kids, maybe this is a good way to give them their first lesson in money, saving, and spending.
5). What do you remember about last Thanksgiving most?- Taking a stroll down memory lane can help encourage good story-telling skills, a skill that promotes academic success. Have your child paint the picture and use details. Don’t be afraid to prompt them and ask “What else to you remember?” and “And then what?”
6). The Missing Person- Who do you wish was here at dinner now? Your child may choose a famous actor, singer, or athlete. Or maybe a cousin or grandparent. It’s always good to talk about the people you love and admire, so your children look for the same qualities in their hero/heroine.
Hopefully these conversation starters will create memories and laughs at your table. Happy Thanksgiving!