Sit-Down Meals: Conversation Starters II

Pleasant conversation at meal time is important.

Pleasant conversation at meal time is important.

Conversation Starters II

Sit-down meals with nurturing conversation help children learn and practice positive life skills. The Promoting Family Meals Project out of Purdue University has conducted studies that support this conclusion.

A quote from their S.U.C.C.E.S.S. literature states:

“It’s at the family table that we learn to talk, learn to behave, to take turns, be polite, not to interrupt, how to share, and when we have guests, how to entertain – good lessons for success in life!

Since conversation is important,we previously shared ideas about active listening and supporting each others  ideas. We also added that each age group uses different topics: Here are examples:

Toddlers  and preschoolers will generally focus on eating and benefit by observing respectful conversation of others. Some might respond to:

  • Do you see something at the table that is round like a ball, soft like a ____ , the color of my hair?
  • Which food on the table is your favorite?  Your dogs favorite? Grampa’s favorite? Is grown under the ground? Above the ground? Grown in trees?

School-aged children have experience outside the home so you can ask:

  • If you could only take one thing with you when we visit___what would it be?
  • Which  food is your ___ grade class’s favorite? How could you find out to be sure?
  • How  do you show your classmates that you like them?
  • Is there someone in your school (neighborhood, church) that  you’d like to be friends with? Why?
  • We have $100 to spend for a short trip, where should we go?
  • Teens and Young Adults: Anything personal, global, or entertaining
  • Name a group or cause you would volunteer to help,?
  • What scared you the most about starting kindergarten?
  • Which teacher did you respect the most? Which showed you the most respect? Why?
  • If you only had a 4-party rotary dial telephone how long should you be permitted to stay on the phone?
  • If a friend shared a secret that may put them in danger, do you tell anyone?

Adult:     If you like this activity, have everyone make up questions to be drawn from a basket. Or, for very thoughtful and perhaps embarrassing challenges get the game “Scruples” from a thrift shop.

These story starters could be placed on separate cards and drawn from a basket, taped under the seat or slipped under the plate. For preschoolers, pictures could be substituted, teens and adults could spin the conversation from 1 common card.

Let us know how it worked at