Table talk: Getting conversations going with kids
As a follow up to my recent blog about the communicative value in eating together as a family, here are a few strategies to help you get the conversation started.
Strategies for getting the conversation started with children
- Ask an open ended question such as “What did you do today?”
- If that doesn’t glean an engaged response, you could ask a more specific question such as “What did you do at lunch time?” “How was Mrs Jones today?” “What book did you read in book time?”
- Share a photo of the day – if you or another family member has done something special, photos are a great way to get the family talking (and laughing).
- Share an old photo of you (in a past life!) – Learning about Mum or Dad in their younger years can be a fun activity (We used to laugh at my parents wedding photos!)
- Children love to learn about themselves as well. Questions such as, “Do you know what your name means? How was your name chosen? Where were you born? What were Mum and/or Dad’s first job?
If you are finding it tricky to get things going, you can (particularly for older children), you can always turn to a few handy helpers. These are just some suggestions with links as to where you can buy them online. I’ve used these and they can be quite fun!
(These are all available as iPhone apps as well – but if you are trying to avoid phones at the table, the cards may be the way to go)
Other games you can play include
- I spy (Simple!)
- Can you remember? (Close your eyes and ask them if they can remember things about the table. “What colour are plates? What colour are my pants? How many cups are on the table”
- Table Talk Twenty: This is just a version of “Guess who” – pick a famous (or familiar) person and have everyone guess (limit of twenty questions)
- Try it out: Food can be pretty expensive, but if you’ve got a spare few dollars, consider buying something exotic or different to try – this can be a great way to start conversation (opinions, descriptors, emotions). As kids I remember Harry Connick Jr would often serenade us in the evenings – in one of his songs he talks about Pecan Pie (or pah-con pie as Harry would say) so one day Mum brought home a Pecan Pie to let us see what it was and taste it. It got us talking – and I’ve never had one since.
- Iron Chef Family Style: Most of us have seen Iron Chef on SBS. If you haven’t, there are three competing chefs who have to make a series of meals based on a certain key ingredient – potential for lots of fun (and disasters). This sort of activity uses procedural and sequential language e.g. “This, then, that” “First, then, last” etc.
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This article was written by our speech pathologist Jenna Butterworth who is a Speech Pathology Australia member.
To find out more about speech therapy or to make an appointment with one of our speech pathologists contact us today!
Fishal, A. (2013). The Family Dinner Project. Accessed online on 19/08/13 from The Family Dinner Project.