Family fun Holidays

Using “Check-ins” to Get the Conversation Started (with Kids)

10 Checkins SFPSMom.comWe do check-ins almost every day on our walk home from school. I give the topic and we all take turns answering. Sometimes we do this to get conversation going at the dinner table. Now, instead of asking “How was your day?” And getting vague answers like : “fine” or “OK”. I end up learning how my kids are REALLY doing. I also learn more about the wonderful people they are.

Not only do I get to learn more about my kids, they enjoy it as well because they get to learn about me and my husband. Parents often forget that children are less likely to share if the sharing is always one way. Relationships are reciprocal–when we share (appropriately) our hopes, fears, dreams and frustrations, we model for children how to communicate their feelings. Children are also more likely to want to share when they feel like it’s a two-way interaction.

If you are a teacher, these make great beginning of the school year check-ins. If you are starting a group learning project, they can also be good questions to start off with to build trust and communication in small groups.

Our Favorite Check-ins

Interested in doing some fun check-in’s yourself? Here are a few some of our family favorites:

Weather Report

Describe your day using a weather report. Answers could include: Cloudy w/ a chance of showers, sunny, hurricane etc.


Describe how you are doing in the following categories:

  • Physically – How do you feel?
  • Intellectually – What have you been learning/thinking about?
  • Emotionally – How do you feel, in your heart?
  • Socially – How have you been feeling about your relationships?

Thorn & a Rose

Name something that happened today that you didn’t like (thorn), and something that happened that you enjoyed (rose).

Two Truths & A Lie

List two interesting things that happened today and one that did not. Listeners have to guess which answer is a lie.

Ice cream flavor

If your day was an ice cream flavor, what would it be? (For example: Rocky Road? Vanilla? Tutti-Frutti?)

Would you rather?

Take turns asking and answering questions like the following:

  • Would you rather be able to fly or be invisible?
  • Would you rather go on a beach vacation or a mountain vacation?
  • Would you rather be the best looking or the most popular person at school/work?
  • Would you rather be too cold or too hot?
  • Would you rather be able to see the future or change the past?

More great questions (and icebreaker ideas) are listed here.

Two words

Everyone gets two words to describe how their day went. They can be ANY words, but only two. After everyone has shared, anyone can elaborate on the words they picked.


This is exactly what it’s called: interview your kids using questions that will allow them to share special thoughts, successes, etc.. It’s funny, but when you ask random questions, you can be seen as nosey. Call it an “interview” and all of a sudden, everyone wants to answer. I like to do this one-on-one (being twins, there is a bit of competition and lack of privacy). The mommy-and-me-ness of it all makes it very special. So special in fact, that the girls ask when I will interview them next. Here are some interview questions we’ve enjoyed:

  • What is something you’ve been really proud about at school lately?
  • What personal quality do you have that makes you special and unique?
  • What is your most favorite and least favorite subject? Why?


We don’t often take the time to recognize our appreciation for one another. This “activity” is a great way to teach kids not only gratitude, but how to gracefully give and accept compliments. Start this off by picking one child to share an appreciation about. It also leaves everyone warm and fuzzy inside <3 Say, “I really appreciate … about you.” Be as specific as you can about the personality trait that you like and the behaviors associated with that quality. Explain how it makes you think or feel. Explain how this quality is one you would like to emulate. If you have more than one child, do the same process with them. Then let other family members have some “think time” before volunteering to share what they like about others in the family.

Table topics

These are cards you can buy (they make great hostess gifts!) They list interesting questions that everyone gets to ask and answer. Some questions we’ve answered are: “How would your family members describe you?” And “If you had to live in another country, which one would you choose?” After my girls got the hang of it, we just make them up as we go.

How do you start meaningful conversations with your kids? What check-ins do you use to get the conversation started?

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