It is easy, even when in the classroom, not to have time to have a true conversation with every child. Again, I encourage you to continue to build that partnership with your parents. This is a great place to enlist the help and other family members. Remember, don’t just ask them to have a conversation with their child as it might not be that simple. Provide specific “how to” and activities.

What do we know about REAL conversations? They happen best when people feel comfortable, safe and are given the opportunity to share about themselves. Therefore, start with open-ended questions. They invite dialogue better than the yes or no type. Also asking a question and adding “why” to it helps to ensure communication. For example,

What have you done today that was fun, and why was it fun?

What is your favorite movie or TV show watched this past weeks ? Why was that your favorite?

Open-ended examples: “”What do you think about the new season of this TV show?

“What personality traits would you look for in a friend?”

“What type of writing assignments to you prefer?”

“How are you feeling?”

For students who have more difficulty with discourse, you might give them a daily journal question to write about then begin by asking that one is shared. Then ask “why” was that one picked. Invite families to play board games to get into relaxed modes. Then encourage games that ask questions such as TableTopics , The Art of Children’s Conversations by TACO, and Conversation Cards by CC Playing Cards. Have students do What’s Up interviews with peers and family members that do not live in the home. Provide a list of questions for them to complete.Encourage conversations about neutral subjects. The way closed ended questions are worded can cause a person to feel pressured to answer it in your way. Leading questions such as, “Don’t you think the hat is cute?” Whereas an open-ended neutral question might be “How do you like that hat?” Using things such as “don’t you” , “isn’t it” or ” wouldn’t you agree?” are leading questions. They make the person you are talking to feel they must agree and do not invite REAL conversation.

Get your students communicating with their peers. If technology doesn’t allow, create pen pals or other paper-and-pen activities by sending home envelopes, paper, and stamps if your school is able. Or mimic “turn and talk to a neighbor” by setting up phone pals where students call each other on the phone several times a week to discuss specific topics or prompts. Perhaps send home a link to a virtual field trip.

Just as you would in your classroom, be sure to have some individual communication with your students. If time allows, send a personal email, message, or video check-in, especially for students who may have a more difficult transition.

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