With growing, school-aged children, many families do not have the time to enjoy company at the dinner table. I like to consider myself traditional when it comes to family meals. With hectic schedules, my family makes a conscious effort at day's close to sit together and enjoy dinner. Dinnertime is a time to share daily happenings. If your family does not follow this dinner tradition, Thanksgiving is a good starting point, as we have many reasons to give thanks and share memories.
Many moons ago, I recall reading, a parent should not simply ask their child, "How was your day?" One must be more specific when asking questions. Questions that cause your child to remember a significant part of their day. Questions that cause them to spark their imagination. I have asked, "How was your day?" or "What did you learn today?" many times to get the response, "Okay" or "I don't remember". Psychologist Jane M. Healy reported in an article for FamilyFun, "Children who are poor conversationalists with others probably converse poorly with themselves." Get your child to open up and become better conversationalists.
Spark Thanksgiving dinner conversations:
Involve children in Thanksgiving cooking/baking/decorating activities - It is extremely important for your child to feel included. One way to do this is to ask them to help in Thanksgiving meal preparation and decoration. This can include anything from making table decorations to baking cookies or pie. Be creative; one year my children decorated individual place mats with "why" they were thankful for each person at the table. This is a positive way to engage in conversation when finally sitting down to eat, as you can go around the table and find out what or who each person is thankful for.
Ask innovative and questions that allow the child's imagination to run wild - Discuss anything and everything. Ask specific questions and make the conversation all about them. What is your favorite book and why? Will Santa be visiting this year? Did you start your Christmas list? Tell us your favorite joke. Which family movie is your favorite? Do you remember when....? Who is your favorite super hero and why? Which celebrity would you like to meet, and what would you ask them? What would you do if you were king, queen, superhero, or President for the day?
Discuss Thanksgiving history - Find out what your child believes or knows about Thanksgiving history. What is Thanksgiving all about? Why do we celebrate Thanksgiving? Who were the Indians and pilgrims? What did they bring to the Thanksgiving table? Brush up on your Thanksgiving history before talking about it with your child. Many sources have diverse views pertaining to this topic. Know your view and opinion and encourage your child to do the same. Some additional historic questions to ask: What year did Thanksgiving begin? Where did it take place? Was it a happy time? Why or why not?
Most importantly, be thankful for today and everyday! Happy Thanksgiving!