How to find more time to spend with your family & have great conversations at dinnertime with good open-ended questions for kids!
Ok so parenting is hard. Period. I work at home full time, and sometimes in the evenings. I vowed a few years ago to slow down and ask open ended questions for kids when they returned from school. It has changed the dynamic of our dinner hour and made our day to day contact closer.
Conversation Starters for Kids
There are so many benefits t asking open ended questions with kids. You want more than a no or yes right?? In order to gather information on how their day really went you need to eliminate the option for those all together. There are many questins to ask kids at the end of their day. Parents and Teachers can use this list of open types of questions to stimulate conversations.
First let me say that this isn’t just when you sit down to eat. You can use these questions for older kids to spark more than one word answers when you’re in the car too. Let me start by saying the car is a great place to see what’s on their mind. It’s not intimidating and they tend to open up more when it’s not stressful.
Questions to Ask Kids
Yes I agree it is kinda’ annoying and comes off as a bit disrespectful when kids are on their phone talking to you. BUT if you allow them to be in their own world in a sense they are much more likely to open up. Open ended questions encourages sharing, especially with teenagers this is important.
Whether you’re talking to your teen about peer pressure or just want to ask about who their good friend is nowadays, let them do their thing while talking. If you want to dig into something serious, ask fun questions first to warm them up to it.
- Ask: What is a fun memory that makes you happy, or what is one thing that made you happy today?
- There is no way they say yes or no to this, there has to be something.
Thinking Questions for Kids
Teachers aren’t the only ones who should get your kids thinking. A great way to stop the close ended questions and have them open up is involve them in something exciting. Planning a vacation is a great one for problem solving where and when you might go, routes, spots to stop along the way.
I mean who doesn’t love to travel??? Use an evening together at the table to brainstorm all the places you want t go that year. Decide to draw or white all of them down, maybe there are 2 you could incorporate together on a family road trip.
For every day questions to ask around the dinner table I have a few great ones below. You can just ask one or two each evening, or write them on popsicle sticks like our boredom buster jar and each child gets to pick out a question to read. Then go around the table and talk, parents too!
If you haven’t had much luck it may be because they’re able to answer with a “uh huh” or no….. with these that isn’t possible.
Open ended questions for kids
- Who did you hang out with today on the playground? Great question, right? Kids love to talk about the fun aspects of school. They want to tell about the games that they played on the playground or who they hung out with. This question also can produce a spin-off of following questions such as “What games did you play at recess?” or “Where do you spend the majority of your time when you are outside at recess?”
- What was your favorite thing that you learned today at school? Be prepared, they may say nothing and if so, nudge back a little bit. Make it more specific, such as “What did you do in PE today?” or “What project are you working on in art class?”
- Understand that, by nature, kids are going to answer with minimal response. As a parent, ask deeper questions to open those lines of communication! Don’t settle for the one-word responses. You owe more to yourself and to them!
- Who do you think is the class clown? While being the class-clown isn’t always a good thing, it is typically something memorable that kids notice. Use it as a question to start a potential conversation about observations and appropriate behavior in the classroom as well!
- What book is you’re teaching currently reading to you? If your child doesn’t want to talk about their day and their workload, ask what their teacher is reading or teaching them. Maybe it’s a book that you have read and can contribute to the excitement and conversation regarding it and its contents!
- Will you teach me tonight how to do the math lesson that you learned today? Think back to your childhood. Was there ever a point where you wanted to be a teacher and couldn’t wait to grow up and teach others? What if your child feels the same way?
- Give them the opportunity to teach YOU something, make them feel as if their day, and what they learned, are valuable and important, and of interest to you.
- What were the food options today at lunch? Basic, right? Simple question, but each and every time I ask my kids have a HUGE opinion about what their food options are for lunch.
- In fact, it can be used as a learning time to discuss the positives of bringing lunch from home versus eating lunch at school.
- Do you have any brain teasers for me that you learned today? Kids are full of so much interesting information! Just ask them!
- They have jokes, riddles and puns ready to go at any point in time…and given the chance to fool their parents? Take ’em up on it and give that question a go!
Other ideas…..play a game together, come up with funny questions, or read jokes for kids while you’re eating dinner! That always evokes conversation naturally, and you can keep it going with these questions above! Swap them out each week and maybe bring out a game you loved as a child…they’ll love that.
Don’t get frustrated if they don’t reciprocate in the conversation in the beginning. Family dinner table talk takes time.