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Lately we have been fortunate to be spending more time with our children. Learning virtually or in a hybrid format has given us more time together as a family, but often that time is spent in front of a screen whether our kids are learning/in-school, exercising “down time” or gathering to watch a family movie.

The screen time is necessary, yes, but it does not have to be the end all. What we really want is to talk to our kids and be with our kids, to take full advantage of this bonus time together.

So how can we get them to talk with us?

Sometimes our questions are too broad. Asking them what happened at school or what they learned encompasses a great deal of information spread out over the course of the entire day. Frankly, they might not want to talk about school at all. So spark a conversation with a different approach – you can “Kickstart the Conversation!”

For instance, I always wanted to share a silly happening that I witnessed while my boys were at school. At the dinner table, I would state three preposterous scenarios and ask them to pick the one they thought actually happened. It produced giggles and interaction, especially when the real event was indeed a man walking a pig on a leash down the street. I kid you not.

I was also fortunate to have one earnest son who politely asked each person at the dinner table about their day by emphasizing, “How was your day?” while he anxiously waited his turn to be asked. He was all in for a family discussion.

However, if your children are more hesitant to converse and would rather concentrate on eating their string beans (ahem) try making a travel ‘bucket list’ of places they would like to travel to and what they expect to see when they get there. Will there be sounds and smells, like the ocean? Or will it be hushed and quiet like a redwood forest? Possibly they want to see monuments and mountains, history and nature, a mixture of sensory experiences.

What if you are stuck in a car on a monotonous drive? If the kids are aimlessly staring out the window, ask them what they think is being carried in the back of a tractor trailer. Depending on the response, the conversation may then take care of itself…food being delivered to a restaurant might lead to the name of the restaurant, what type of food served, should the family dine there…? Horses being transported could make the group ponder if they are going to a race or to a farm, and what will happen once they get there…

Starting a conversation with kids can lead to the creation of a story or about real events in your child’s life of which you might not be aware. It also could lead to a discovery of their dreams and aspirations, or simply giving them a safe place to talk.

What would they say if you asked, “If you could time travel, would you go ahead or back in time?” or “If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?” Safe, easy questions with no right or wrong answer but it could lead to a very cool connection with your kids.

If you need suggestions, the team at Elementary Connections is here to assist with your efforts to get your kids talking. Starting this week, we are launching our new feature, Kickstart a Conversation which will feature three new  conversation starters on our Facebook page each Friday. Be sure to like and follow us on Facebook so you don’t miss out! If you have an idea of your own, please share it with us there, too!

Remember, just keep the conversation going…