Have you ever had a similar conversation with your kids? You really want to engage in their school lives, but they don’t have much to say. You are genuinely interested in what they are doing, but the kids give you one-word answers. Perhaps changing the questions you ask would help.
Today, I want to focus on one of our Dalat Student Outcome Statements from the “Scholarship” category: “A Dalat student communicates skillfully by asking meaningful and relevant questions.” We want our students to learn how to ask questions that are pertinent to the conversation, thoughtful, and worth the time to ask and answer. For adults, modeling good questioning is one way to help them learn.
Often, the quality of responses is related to the quality of the questions themselves. We already know that asking “yes/no questions” will not elicit a very thorough response. It’s also important that our questions demonstrate an understanding of and value for the person we are talking to. If we ask kids the same question every day, they don’t necessarily perceive that we really care about the response. Perhaps try some of these questions instead:
“Tell me about something you enjoyed today.”
“Tell me about something that made you angry today.”
“Who did you eat lunch with? What do you like about that person?”
“What was the most difficult question on your math test today?”
Try encouraging your kids to ask you questions, too. After you ask them something about their day, encourage them to ask a question about your day. This will help them to practice asking questions and also help to build your understanding of one another.
In my middle school Student Advisory Team (SAT), we often play a game called “Hot Seat.” One person is on the hot seat, and they are to answer questions. Everyone else in the group takes turns asking questions. The students often start out with simple questions, like “What’s your favorite color?” but they quickly move on to deeper and more meaningful questions. Something like this might work in your family. If it doesn’t, keep trying different questioning strategies until you find something that is effective with your children. Most importantly, don’t stop asking questions.