In the post Why Do You Go To School? Why Children Are Asked This Question? I have expressed my views that children should not be asked about their school as a first question of the conversation. Now, if that is ruled out, then what does an adult speak to a child about? What are the questions to ask kids to get them talking?
I am referring to kids in the age-group of four-six years. I realized that barring schools and chocolates, there are not many things that adults get comfortable about talking to kids in this age-group. Our soon-to-be five-year-old twin daughters are a chatter-box, but they also need an ice-breaker to get them going with relatives/strangers.
I have come up with a list of 5 questions to ask kids to get them started. The list has been arrived at keeping in mind the ease of the adult initiating the interaction. Also, the children in this age-group cannot be asked targeted/specific questions for they may not have the exposure to what the adult is referring to / know how to express themselves in as many words.
The list of questions to ask kids is broad-based and depending on the interest levels of the adult/child, the questions can be worded/modified. Of course, it is not at all necessary that a child will reply to any of these questions. They are their individuals and with their own preferences/likes/moods. Like any other relationship, it depends on the rapport that an adult can build with the kid that s/he will respond.
What does a child do? Play. This is an activity that a child does all the time. At least, that is what I have come to believe based on my experience.
Just ask the child – what does s/he like playing? If the child does not respond, say that you would want to play with her/him. Even now the child does not respond, you can suggest the games to the child. This is sure to get the kid going.
There are a lot of games that do not require any material. They can be played anywhere and anytime, by any number of players.
What’s more? It will enliven the child in the adult.
Eating is something that everybody does. Ask the child what the food s/he had in the earlier meal, going to have in the next meal and so on. Speak to the child about the food you had/going to have.
Food brings people together, and children are no different. The conversation can be about meals, vegetables, fruits, milk, spices, cooking, buying, cleaning, portions, colour, source and what all you and the child can think about.
Just, keep the chocolates out. Chocolates are not food for it is no good.
The simple assumption is that either the kid or you have travelled for the get-together to happen. Children are fascinated with modes of transport.
Speak to children about how you/they travelled to come to the place. What did you/they do during the travel to engage? What all was seen and experienced during the travel?
One of my daughters love to talk about to how uncles driving two-wheelers do not wear helmets, taxi uncles do not wear seat-belts and auto uncles do not ply on meters. She can go on and on about the inefficacy of Hyderabad traffic police uncles if somebody brings her onto this topic.
This is another activity that all the children would do. They love to hear stories/songs and also to tell/sing themselves. Just give them the opportunity.
There is no need for the adult to know any fairies and demons stories, we do not know ourselves. Tell the children any make-believe imaginary story of 2-3 minutes, and that is enough for them. For time to come, they will keep asking questions about the story or even extend the story themselves.
By songs, I mean actual songs and not rhymes, though that will also do if adults happen to remember their rhymes. Children are very good at remembering the tune/rhythm and can pick it up fast.
Nature – Animals/Birds/Insects/Trees/Flowers/Sky
For children, anything and everything under the sky, including the sky, fascinates. I would want to believe that that is how it should be for adults too.
Just see anything and speak to children. Even if you do not see a thing, it is fine, speak about it. It will suffice to a child.
Children are innately curious, creative and imaginative. Majority of us adults have lost it as we grow up to be worldly-wise.
When the majority of us ask the same question – “Which School Do You Go To?” to children all the time, we are making them adults sooner, than later. Beyond the name of the school and grade/class, there is no other discussion point to continue the conversation, leave aside building the rapport and knowing the child.
What would be your questions to ask kids to get them talking?