“Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.”— John Wesley
For those of you who are sending your little ones (or not so little ones) off to school this month, I understand your mixed emotions.
One evening last I week I was home for a whole two hours, and I was ready to jump out the window! I love my kids so very much, but sometimes they drive me insane. The structure of a school years helps keep their annoyances in check. Or, perhaps it’s the exhaustion after school and activities.
Either way, last week I was more than ready to send them back to school. Really, for their sanity and mine. This week, I’m still ready for school to start. I am ready for the new beginning that comes with a new school year. Fresh new tennis shoes that smell like leather and not smelly tween feet. Shiny school supplies that have yet to be chewed on, torn or graffitied. The excitement of finding out which friends are in which classes. Learning more about the new kid. Learning more about who my youngsters are becoming.
And my favorite part of the new school year is hearing about their days. I love their perspectives on various interactions, what they learned and how they are navigating the tough times of the tween years.
Over the years I have tried many approaches to pulling this information out of my kids. I grew tired of “fine” or “nothing” as an answer for every question. I grew desperate to find new ways to engage them. I could provide clients in my child welfare work with various ways to engage their kids, but I struggled to get much out of my own.
Until I learned a neat conversation trick while at a conference.
We do this every night at dinner. Even in the summer when some of my answers are reflective of the restraint I showed by not jumping out the window!
One person asks another four simple questions. When they have been answered, that person asks someone else, until everyone has answered.
What was the best part of your day?
What challenged you today?
How have you helped someone today?
What did you learn today?
When you are struggling to engage any child about school or home, try one or all of these questions. It really helps to build stronger relationships.
And the answers just might surprise you!
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