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Asking your children great questions after school is a good way to start a meaningful discussion with them and to shape their thinking and their perceptions. By setting up an expectation for a response to great questions, we guide children towards making them a part of their thinking and their action during the day.
Many of us have posed the standard “How was your day?” question to our children. “What did you learn today?” is also a common one. There is nothing wrong with these questions, except (more often than not, at least in my experience) they are normally met with a one word response like “okay” or “math”. The conversation kind of ends right there.
As parents, we are interested in the lives of our children. These types of basic responses do not really give us the information that we want and the conversation just normally ends right there. We want to connect and we want to guide, but these questions just often run flat.
As a teacher, I spend a big part of my day thinking about great questions that will both frame and guide the thinking of my students. As a dad, I also try to do the same thing with my five year-old daughter.
I have had varying success with these questions depending on the day, and I certainly am not suggesting that you ask each and every one of them each and every day. Ask as many or a few as you feel is appropriate on any given day. You may have minimal responses at first, but once you have framed your expectations for dialogue and your becomes familiar with these expectations, the responses should become richer each time you ask them.
Here are some great questions to ask your child after school:
1. “Tell me about something you did well today?”
Rationale: I expect you to think about what you are doing well.
2. “Tell me something you’d like to do better tomorrow?”, “How will you do this?”
Rationale: I expect you to make mistakes and to learn from them. I expect you to be the best ‘you’ that you can be each and every day and to reflect on your experiences and set goals.
3. “What was you best question today?”
Rationale: I expect you to be thinking throughout the day and to be trying to understand things in a way that is meaningful and relevant to you. I expect you to be brave and ask questions in order to understand.
4. “What problems did you solve today?”
Rationale: I expect you to recognize problems when they arise and to look for ways that you can support the process of solving them. Solving problems is important.
5. “Who had the best lunch today?”, “What made it the ‘best’?”
Rationale: I expect you to take what we have learned at home regarding good nutrition and to apply it to your life. Think about how good food helps your body.
6. “What did you do to help someone today?”
Rationale: I expect you to think about others and to try to understand their feelings and needs. I also expect you to try to make a positive difference if the lives of other people.
7. “What did you wonder about today?”, “Do you have any questions you want answered?”
Rationale: I expect you to think and to wonder about stuff. I expect you to connect your learning and experiences to your prior learning and experiences and to question things and to wonder.
8. “Who did something kind for someone else today?”, “How do you think it made those people feel?”
Rationale: I expect you to look for and acknowledge the goodness in others. I also expect you to think about how treating people kindly makes them and you feel.
9. “What was the funniest thing that happened at school today?”
Rationale: I expect you to find and enjoy the humour in everyday life. Life is meant to be enjoyed, and humour is a great way to bring enjoyment into your everyday life. Laugh.
These questions can be asked at any time. I find asking them during the drive home or during dinner or just before bed to be the best times for me and my daughter. Ask them whenever it suits you. In any case, asking great questions will help to frame your expectations for your child’s day and help to shape their thinking and awareness of themselves and others. It also assures them that you have an interest in their lives. Asking these types of open-ended questions will also help to create dialogue between you and your child and help both of you to share and reflect on your day.
I also encourage my daughter to ask me questions about ‘my’ day. In this manner, we create an open and free dialogue that is really quite terrific. It also makes me frame my day and my perceptions around the types of questions that I am being asked by her in return.
Please share any other suggested questions that you might have. We would appreciate some more conversation starters that you might have had success with. Of course, you can also agree or disagree with any of the suggestions that I have made as well. We would love to hear from you.
Here are more of my posts regarding children.
Author: Jason Milburn Google
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