5 Questions to Ask Bright, Creative Kids
My kids are home with me a lot. I work from home and we alternatively school. That doesn’t necessarily mean I know exactly how their days have gone any more than they know how mine has. (Unless I’ve been particularly vocal at the keyboard or they have had some project explode or math problem appear completely unsolvable.)
When my kids were at traditional, bricks-n-mortar public school, I learned quickly not to ask the rote question, “how was your day?” It begs a “fine” response out of most anyone. For my kids, even the alternative, “what did you learn today?” yielded predictable answers, too. “Nothing.” “We reviewed.” “We waited around for people to behave and then reviewed.” I tired of this quickly, knowing that it wasn’t always the truth. So instead I would Mulberry Street the process. For those of you not intimately acquainted with Theodore Geisel’s work, I’ll explain.
Often, the kids think that all we’re interested in hearing is the good, the bad, or the academic (“Grown up stuff”). Open that up. Color outside those lines. What was fantastic, in the literal sense? This will involve asking for a ticket into their minds. (It’s worth the fare.)
1. “What was the coolest thing you did today and why?” Even if they didn’t do anything particularly cool, you can always argue that lunch may have been cooler than reviewing multiplication tables or vice versa. Give me the coolest and why. And if the day was a bust, what stunk the absolute most.
2. “What did you notice today that you didn’t notice yesterday?” Maybe the gym was redecorated. Maybe Mrs. Whatsername got a new ‘do. Maybe there are 734 squares between the library and her classroom. Maybe she gets a headache when snow is coming.
3. “What changes in friendships did you notice today?” Asking it like this makes them open to the observation of others. Then, you can ease into how that affects them, directly or indirectly. “Has that ever happened to you? What would you do in that situation?”
4. “Teach me something…what do I need to know?” Little ones LOVE when you don’t know something they just learned. If you have older kids and you’ve never taken this approach, prepare for funny looks. Help them out by starting the sentence, “Mom, did you know that…” (Then prepare for a smarty pants “… you’re annoying!” Keep trying.
5. “If you could totally change how today went, tell me about THAT day.” And then be quiet. After they’ve told you about the totally imagined day, ask them what part they’d like to make happen for real tomorrow.
Action: Try eliminating the phrase, “How was your day?” from your routine. For more creative questions that spark conversation, follow the #coolkidconvos @julzoflife on Instagram. Share with us what shows up in your life after the change.
Hint: This works for grown-ups, too.
Movie recommendation – Imagine That with Eddie Murphy. Completely kid-friendly. Reminds us of the power (and joy) of imagination.
Julie Ford is a certified life coach, author, speaker, facilitator and trainer. She helps organizations support their high performers through parenting transitions. With one-on-one and group coaching, she helps her clients to define what matters most in their lives, and to realize what is and isn’t working. Collaboratively, they move through a customized plan to find more joy and less chaos in the everyday.
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Need a tip for the chaos in YOUR life? ASK Julie! Leave a question in the comments!