I don't have any school-aged kids in my house, but in my mind, as soon school starts it's time for fall. I'm ready for cooler weather, rusty-colored leaves, warm cups of coffee in the middle of the day, football games and “Happy Fall, Y'all” signs in yards.
Maybe I'm weird, but I can smell it approaching. There's something in the air that feels different. It might be the return of routine or earlier sunsets, or maybe my dog getting fluffier for the winter — I can't put my finger on it, but it's palpable. It's time for change, and the earth is speaking it.
My son started day care recently, so although he's not school-aged, it definitely felt like it was back-to-school time. We got "school” supplies, a couple new outfits and a new pair of tennis shoes. The first few mornings of taking him, I found myself thinking about what it was going to be like to actually send him to school. Would he want to talk about his day? How do I get him to volunteer information about what's going on in his life? I want good conversation. I want him to know he's loved and that I care about what's going on in his world. How do I teach him to care about what happens in others' lives? How do I get a deeper answer than “My day was fine?" Okay, okay, I realize he's not even two yet, but I want to be intentional. I don't want to waste a minute.
Maybe it starts by asking better questions.
Recently a friend of mine came up with a list he called “After School Questions” — questions that require more than a one-word answer that you can ask on the way home from school or when the kids get home from school. I'm tucking them away for the day my son can actually talk, but maybe you could add a few to your arsenal right now.
- What was your day's high and low?
- Who was an encouragement to you?
- Was there a way you were an encouragement to someone else?
- What was the hardest rule to follow?
- What was the best part about lunch time?
- Who'd you sit next to at lunch?
- What did you do during recess or break?
- Did you do anything different today?
- What's the most interesting thing (teacher's name) did in class?
- Did anything happen that annoyed you?
- What are you grateful for today?
- Who in your class is most like/unlike you? What do you appreciate about them?
- Did anyone wear something you thought was awesome-looking?
- What teachers would you pick for your team in a dodgeball game?
- What about tomorrow are you already looking forward to?
- These are just a few questions, sure. Some are random, some are pointed, but they all have the potential to reclaim the small amount of down time we spend with our kids and change our family dynamic. It only takes a little effort sometimes to make a big difference.
As the leaves are changing, so can we. Come on fall, we're ready for a new start!