How to Make the Most of After School Conversations with Your Kids

This post is sponsored by Stonyfield® YoKids®. Your kids are your #1 priority, and they deserve the #1 organic kids yogurt!

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When Stonyfield YoKids reached out to me and asked about how I talk to my kids about keeping their bodies strong and healthy, it got me thinking about the conversation moments we have as a family throughout the day. On school days, the time we have available to connect with our kids is oh so limited. And sometimes, I can see we’re not putting the time to good use. I’m not too hard on myself about it — it’s natural that routines become routine, and our default conversations often become simply chit chat. This is fine. But I try to be aware that with just a little structure and not much more effort, our after-school snack conversations can give us wonderful insight into our kids lives.

If the responses we get in our conversations are mostly: “Yeah” “No” “Not much” “Nothing really” “Fine” “Okay”, etc. then I use it as a reminder that I could be doing a better job at this aspect of parenting.

How to Make the Most of After School Conversations with Your Kids

To help us make the most of our conversation times — at meals, after school, or in the car — we use three basic topics that give us structure: academics, friends, and their body. Of course, we’re not strict about sticking to these topics. But these are areas that are on their minds, and they usually want to process what is happening at school anyway.

Below, you’ll find some of the simple questions we use, but first, I want to tell you how much I’ve loved working with Stonyfield YoKids on this post. You already know YoKids is certified organic — always made without the use of toxic pesticides, artificial hormones, antibiotics and GMOs. And Organic Certification is a big deal, because just calling something natural isn’t a guarantee.

But something you might not know (and it’s something I’m so please about) is that Stonyfield recently announced a sugar reduction across all of its yogurt products – and it started with YoKids, which now has between 25% to 40% less sugar than the leading kids’ yogurt.

How to Make the Most of After School Conversations with Your Kids

Something else I love is that YoKids is as convenient as it gets. It comes in cups, pouches, tubes, and smoothies, making it super easy to grab and go (because satisfied bellies make those car conversations much more effective). We like to freeze our pouches and squeezers; we pack them in our kids’ lunch boxes and they’re perfectly thawed just in time for lunch.

How to Make the Most of After School Conversations with Your Kids

And finally, I love that Stonyfield supports the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ SAFE (Saving Animals From Extinction) program. It brings kids face-to- face with endangered animals, and educates children about endangered species. It’s just another example of Stonyfield’s commitment to a healthy planet and healthy kids. Oh And you can win a family trip to South Africa! Find details on their packaging for information on your chance to win.

How to Make the Most of After School Conversations with Your Kids

Now to those sample questions. The aim for adding structure to these conversations is to get good insight into our children’s lives — where they’re excelling, where they’re struggling — in a non-judgmental environment. We try to provide enough flexibility, so the questions aren’t yes/no, and they don’t have to feel like they have to identify THE most important/memorable item. It’s the same logic that it’s hard to think of your favorite movie, but it’s not very hard to think of some movies that might be in your top 5 or 10.

We don’t always do this (that would get exhausting!), we have plenty of empty chit chat too. But when we want to explore a bit deeper, this basic structure helps.

How to Make the Most of After School Conversations with Your Kids

Here’s how we approach these different topics.

Academics:
For academics, we want to help our kids articulate what they’re learning, what they’re enjoying about what they’re learning, and what they might be struggling with. Here are the types of questions we might ask. 
1. What is a topic or two you are discussing in [subject x] today/this week? 
2. Did you have questions in [subject y] you wish you could have asked but didn’t?
3. What classes are the easiest or most enjoyable for you? Why do think that is?

Occasionally, we might ask an additional question, like: “I want to hear about specific things you’re learning in your classes, so think for about 20 seconds about something specific you are learning, so you can tell us about it…”

How to Make the Most of After School Conversations with Your Kids

Friends:
For friends, we want to help our kids articulate who their friends are, what their names are, what they do together, and any difficult relationships they might be dealing with. Here are the types of questions we might ask. 
1. What are the names of some of the kids in your class?
2. What activities do you do together during lunch, or during breaks? What do you talk about?
3. Did you have any stressful situations today, or are you having a stressful time with anyone? Tell me about it…

How to Make the Most of After School Conversations with Your Kids

Their Body:
For their bodies, we want to help our kids articulate how they feel, any areas of concern, and we want to use conversations as an opportunity to plant seeds about hygiene and changing bodies: you’re going to be growing, you might not smell good, we need to brush our teeth, here’s what happens (or how we feel) when we eat healthy foods or not eat healthy foods. Here are the types of questions we might ask: 
1. What physical activities do you do during the day, or during PE? 
2. Any weird or surprising sensations, smells, or pains today? Tell me about it/them.
3. How would you rate how well your body is working these days?

How to Make the Most of After School Conversations with Your Kids

Now it’s your turn. What are your conversations with your kids like these days? Are your children naturally chatty? Or do you have to coax them a bit to get them talking? What kinds of questions do they respond to best? And what are your tips and tricks for making the most of the conversation time you have with your kids? I’ve found that working side by side (like washing and drying the dishes) can sometimes make for easier conversations than sitting face to face. Same goes for car conversations — the lack of eye contact can help keep the pressure off. What about you?

P.S. — A month’s worth of school lunch ideas.