This time of year, my social media is flooded with images of cute children ready to begin their school year; from homeschooling families at tea times or on learning expeditions to public and private school students dressed up, with big smiles and backpacks filled. I love this time of year. I love the ceremony of opening days and the optimism with which I greet (and encourage my kids to greet) the new school year.
This year, as I was scrolling through the school-going children, I found myself paying a lot of attention to the first day of school signs kids were holding. The placards generally detailed similar information, namely the children's names, ages, interests, favorites, and dreams for the future. They aren’t extensive–they are not meant to be. They contain just enough info to be snapshots of our children. Precious memories that years from now, will prompt us to reminisce about when a child wanted to grow up to be a mermaid, singer, or psychiatrist. But what if these first day of schools signs could be more? What if they could not only be a snapshot, but an invitation to get reacquainted with our ever-changing children.
But what if these first day of schools signs could be more? What if they could not only be a snapshot, but an invitation to get reacquainted with our ever-changing children.
This year, my oldest daughter filled out an “All about Me” worksheet to kick off the year. It was super simple–name, favorite color, food, book, and hobby. She also detailed a few things she did this summer. (Emphasis on a few, because she found a way to bring the bulleted list of seven down to three.) As I was watching her work, I was thinking,
“Oh, yes–pink is still her favorite color. "
"Huh?! She put the Jada Jones books as her favorite. I think those are the most recent books she’s read rather than her favorite books.
I wonder if she knows that a book of poetry still counts as a book?”
And those wonderings and questions led to many more questions and great conversations with my children. I’ve captured some of them below. Some of these questions I knew the answers to; many I didn’t, despite having been with them almost all day every day for the entire summer and this past year!
Beginning of the Year Questions to Strengthen Connection
What’s something you’re really proud of?
What’s something you’re not feeling great about?
What’s something you’re working on?
What’s something you’ve accomplished?
What’s something you treasure? Or that means a lot to you? (Could be something you can hold in your hands (tangible) or an experience/memory.)
What is one thing I love about you?
Would you rather have a hug, a present, a nice note, go on a trip, or have help cleaning your room? (Kinda trying to see if her love language is changing.)
Name three things you are grateful for?
What’s something you want to be great at?
What’s something you’ve tried and are ready to stop?
What’s something you wish I would stop? Do more of? Keep doing?
This list is definitely not exhaustive. I’m still asking new things every day. As a matter of fact, what questions are you asking your children these days?
If you had any “ahas,” or were surprised as you were asking your children their favorite movie, hobby, or color this year, and even if you weren’t, keep on digging! Our children change and change their minds in such subtle ways. They are endlessly fascinating, so enjoy getting to know them even more. While the answers to these particular questions may not be the ones you want to capture and post, they prompt conversations that are rich and meaningful and that you’ll treasure just as much!