Since I last posted about family meal time conversations, sharing ideas from the Childhood 101 Facebook community, our dinner time conversations have evolved to include Immy sharing the highlights of her day at school and us all taking a turn to share the best and worst parts of our day. Sometimes we mix it up to include something we learnt or a mistake we made, and other times one of us asks a special question all of their own that each person takes a turn to answer. It’s a lot of fun and it provides us with valuable insight into what Immy is thinking and how she is feeling.
In talking with friends, I know that not all children are as forthcoming when it comes to sharing information, especially when asked about their day at school. I imagine it is a large part personality but I do believe including regular time to slow down to talk together meaningfully in your family’s routine can also make a big difference. While dinnertime works best for us, maybe another meal in the day, or one meal a week where everyone is expected to sit down together, or even some special quiet time just before bed provide a workable alternative, depending upon the age of your children and your family commitments.
Our asking of one off, special questions led me to the idea of making a printable set of conversation question cards. Each card includes one question, with topics related to the individual, friends, family, school and general life choices. There are 30 questions in total and while some cards may be best suited to older children (mid to late primary/elementary), many of the questions can be answered by preschoolers and those in the early grades (and the printable also includes one blank page of cards so that you can add further questions all of your own).
Choosing one card each time you slow down to talk together can be a great strategy for getting the conversation started and I see family dinner times in the years ahead full of laughter and good natured debate as our children grow and develop opinions and ideals all of their very own.
To download and print: The cards are available in an A4 sized document here. To print, you may need to select “Fit to printable area” (or similar) depending upon your printer type and paper size. I suggest printing the cards onto a lightweight card stock or photo paper and laminating them.
How do you manage to find time to come together for some family conversation? Do you have a regular conversation starter that you use to get everyone sharing?