Questions Direct Thinking
Asking children questions about their day at school has been going on for as long as children have attended school. It’s a long-standing tradition. That doesn’t’ mean we can’t change it. We must.
We can do better than “How was school?” “What did you do?” “How did you do?”
What do you care about? Ask about it. Children pay attention to the things we ask about. For schoolwork, it shows up like this: If a teacher asks about cause-effect relationships during class discussions, students will begin reading the textbook and listening to the lectures for cause-effect relationships. If he asks for recall of dates, students will pay attention to the dates in textbooks and that teachers mention in lectures. Questions direct thinking.
The same thing is true for how we talk about school. If we only ask about how they did on their work, they’ll assume we only care about their performances. I know you care about more. For your kids to know, you must ask better questions. Try these on a regular basis. And, answer the same questions so you can model how you live your life.
Questions Teach Children What We Value
What was a highlight of your day? What was a lowlight of your day?
What was surprising? Disappointing? Frustrating? (Rotate descriptors like this and follow up with appropriate questions like, “How did you respond?” “How will you handle it the next time you’re disappointed?”)
Were you frustrated or discouraged today? I’m so sorry. How did you respond? May I help you in anyway?
Did you notice anyone who was lonely or discouraged today? How did you respond?
Who did you help today? Why did you choose that person and what did you do? How do you think the person felt? How did you feel?
Did you need help today? What was going on and who did you turn to?
How did your relationship with God matter to you today? Did you pray? Did you think of a Bible verse or two that helped you when you needed guidance? Think of what Jesus would want you to do? Have joy from Jesus when others were unhappy? (Ask what’s age appropriate depending on your children’s relationship with God.)
Were you trustworthy today? Tell me about it. (Security is the foundation of everything.)
Who were you today? Were you creative, confident, teachable, outgoing, generous, …? (Identity controls behavior. Find out about their character.)
Tell me about one of your friendships. Who did you enjoy spending time with today? Why? (Belonging is a legitimate need we all have.)
What did you learn or talk about today that matters for your future? How can you leave the world a better place? (Remind your kids that school is necessary, but not the end goal. We want them to use what they’re learning.)
How were you encouraged today in your learning? What’s getting easier for you? What might a teacher say you’re good at? What still challenges you that you’re looking forward to understanding better? (Rotate among questions like these. Your kids have a need to be competent.)
Think of other questions that work well for your children. Asking smart questions matters!
Remember that we post a question or two worth asking children on the Celebrate Kids, Inc., Facebook page every weekday at 2:00 CT. Today’s are “What did someone do for you recently that caused you to feel appreciated? Tell me more about how you felt.”
Also, we have an app available in the Apple store that gives you a question or two every day worth asking kids. The questions are different from those on Facebook. Today’s are “Who’s one of the funniest people you know? What makes him or her funny?”