Joining in a conversation is a skill that some people have naturally and others need to learn and practice. Personally, I've never been that comfortable joining in group conversations, I'm much better one-on-one. Particularly as a kid I often found myself not knowing what to say or how to start a conversation - and I remember lots of awkward silences!
So - this is one area that I really want to help our kids learn to be comfortable with.
An idea we started using a while ago was conversation coasters. I made up a few coasters with questions on that were placed on the table at dinner time. During the meal, everyone had to ask somebody the question they found on their coaster. We used lots of questions about the day, for example.
"What was the best thing that happened to you today?"
"What did you learn today?"
"Who did you play with and what did you play today?"
These coasters proved to be a great hit, our daughters really enjoyed using them. After a while of using them, they gradually became more confident with conversations - using the questions from the coasters to start and join in conversations when we have dinner guests. These coasters have also been enjoyed by friends and family members who have come to visit.
We haven't used those coasters much lately- using the same questions over and over again does get a bit repetitive and boring. However, since our girls are a little older now, I thought it was time to make some new questions and start using this idea again to extend their conversation skills and ideas. We tried this first new set out last night at dinner and once again they were lots of fun!
For kids who are shy - this is a great way to get them talking in a group. To practice speaking with given questions and 'roles', it will build their confidence and also provide examples for them to replicate and build on for future conversation situations.
I'm hoping to add new question coasters every few weeks from now on. Using the same questions over and over again each day doesn't really work, so the more we have to mix up the better.
If anyone has any suggestions for questions to put on these coasters I'd love to hear them!
How do you encourage your kids in conversations? Do you have any ideas to share?