How to Inspire your Kids at the Dinner Table

Asking your kids quality dinner table questions can change the way they see the world.

Family dinners keep getting bad press for being a thing of the past. But one of the wonderful benefits that we as homeschoolers often have is consistent family time together at the dinner table. Time together is awesome, but we can influence the way our kids think about life at mealtime too. We just need to ask a question or two.  

Several years ago I read a book (and sadly I don’t remember which one) in which the author discussed a habit that changed her life. The author’s father asked the same question every night at the dinner table: Who have you helped today?

Every night she and her sister got to share something helpful they did during their day. This dinnertime routine quickly developed into actively looking for ways to help other people throughout the day. I love this!  She mentioned that as an adult, this was still a primary question in her life and it influenced her every day. This is something that we incorporated into our lives as well. It truly changed the tone of our lives! We still watch for opportunities to help, and I can see in my adult children the echoes of that dinnertime habit.

What question would ask you kids to change the way they see the world? Here are a few ideas!

•    What great things happened to you today?  (Shows that you care and keeps you alert to the great things that happen every day)

•    What are you grateful for today?  (Creates a life of gratitude, which is the one thing known to create happiness)

•    What interesting thing did you learn today?  (Instills active learning)

•    What is a question you have about your day?  (Instills curiosity)

•    What is great about that? (When asked after relaying a negative story or complaining, this can turn it into a positive experience instead)

•    What are you looking forward to tomorrow?  (Sets up the next day for a win)

•    What are the top three things that happened in your day?  (Great for communicating and being thoughtful)

•    Maybe you would like to create a reader. Ask them about one thing they read about during the day.

•    Ask them to teach you something to encourage active learning.

•    And of course…  Who have you helped today?

Another life skill that this helps to develop is quality listening. Being 100% present while listening to someone shows them love and respect. This tradition allows them to practice listening and be listened to as well. How awesome is that?

What is great about consistently asking the same question or questions over months or years is that the repetition of being asked and answering creates long term habits of living with that question in mind. I have also personally noticed that for a while, it can get repetitive, but breakthrough moments ultimately happen and are worth the wait. You’ll notice your son stepping up to help an older women load groceries into her car, or your daughter making sure to research something she was interested in just so she can share it with you at the table. 

What are the values that matter most to your family? A friend of ours even made laminated place-mats with a group of the most meaningful questions to feed her family’s minds while they were feeding their bodies. 
I’d love to hear about how you have incorporated one of the questions above into your daily mealtime. Or, come up with meaningful questions of your own and have those be the base for your nightly talks. And don’t forget…the parents should be answering these questions as well!