I love seeing my kids again after they’ve spent a busy day at school. I can tell from their satisfied expressions, grubby clothing, and grass-stained knees that they have had a busy and active day. So when I ask them how their day was, I get frustrated when I get the ‘fine’ with no details to follow. I know it probably was fine for the most part, with moments of glee, some frustration, and probably a moment or two of boredom. I don’t want a minute-by-minute play-by-play but … some illustration of the events of their day would be greatly appreciated. I know they all like their teachers, love time with their friends, and enjoy PE, lunch and library the best. But what else? I know there is more.
So some questions I’ve used rather effectively to pull that info from my kids:
What did you learn today?
Something new? Something that helps explain a question or problem? Something that works better with your friends? Schoolwork or playground related? Often, I hear about the finer details of the latest theory on airplane folding, or the game they played with their friends, or even how to make a particular Spanish dish … all good, all more than ‘fine’. And all, most often, new to me.
What did you try hard at today?
Sometimes, they try hardest at things we don’t even know they struggle with or like to put effort into. Finding out what your child tries hard at can help illuminate topics of interest.
What mistakes did you make that taught you something?
A mistake does not necessarily equate a blunder; it does however open one to the opportunity to learn something and gives the chance to figure out a change to do it better next time. I think, too, it’s important for kids to understand that mistakes happen, and it’s okay. Everyone makes mistakes. It’s where we go from that mistake that helps us to grow and change. As the saying goes ‘If you have never failed, you have never tried at something new.’ Making a mistake is not the same thing as failing.
What challenges did you overcome today?
What challenges one child (or adult) might come easily to another. We’ve had many a conversation around the table where we’ve talked about some thing that one child is struggling with, and another will pipe up with a suggested solution. As each of our boys has their own strengths, one’s suggested solution might not fit well for the other, but I love the opportunity to watch them offer a hand. Additionally, hearing about different challenges my kids face often opens my eyes to the different things that go on in their day, especially those that might come from the international environment they live in, and from the mix of cultures they are immersed in every single day. What would never have happened in my elementary class is commonplace for them. And imagine how different and how much more technology these kids embrace each and every day. Their classroom has challenges we can’t even imagine.
In addition, your kids love to tell you about instances when they win, or figure something out. They love telling you about their positive outcomes.
The conversation at the dinner table doesn’t have to be about politics or cultural events or current international events to be interesting. Your kids have amazing insights and delightful conversation to offer; you just have to find the right way to get the topics flowing.