Conversation is an important part of our family life and an important part of our homeschool.
Meaningful conversation contributes to the atmosphere of learning in our homeschool and it enhances our relationships with one another. My kids are encouraged to share their thoughts, feelings, and ideas with me and others. They learn to defend their point of view, explain their reasoning, and consider what someone else has to say.
Conversations give my children the room and freedom to process what they are learning. We might talk about current events, the plot of a book, or whether parallel universes truly exist.
Our Brave Writer Lifestyle has taught me to value our conversations just as much as I value any part of our homeschool, sometimes even more. I’ve learned that everything doesn’t have to be in a book, on a worksheet, or written down at all.
Over the years, I have found several tools that ignite the meaningful conversations in our home and in our homeschool.
1. Meaningful Conversation: CNN10
Two years ago we stumbled upon CNN 10, formerly called CNN Student News. This 10 minute “middle of the road” summary of world news has become the perfect way to start our day. Not only do the kids remain informed about current events, but the news stories often ignite meaningful conversation.
This 10-minute broadcast begins with important world news stories. Sometimes the entire broadcast is dedicated to one significant topic, but generally, there are 1-3 top news stories covered. In between the main stories, there is a trivia question which we love to try to guess correctly. Often there is a human interest story about a CNN Hero, an inspiring student-athlete, or a general human interest story from the Great, Big Story website.
I am often asked if the news coverage is non-biased. That’s hard to answer for everyone, but I find very close to “middle of the road”.
That being said, the great thing about watching it with your kids is that you can discuss any bias that you hear in a story encourage your kids to contribute to the conversation with their own opinions.
**If your kids are in school, then schedule a viewing before, during, or immediately after dinner.
2. Meaningful Conversation: Philosophy for Kids
Occasionally I pull out our Philosophy for Kids: 40 Questions that Help You Wonder about Everything book and we dive into a great lunch or dinner time conversation.
In addition to open-ended questions, this book also provides historical information about great philosophers who inspired the questions and their thinking in regards to the answers.
The conversations that stem from these questions aren’t simple. Questions such as, “Can you lie to yourself?” or “Can you doubt you exist?” might make for great conversation, but they can also lead to frustration. Feel free to skip around the book and discuss questions that appeal to you.
We have enjoyed the values section, answering questions such as, “How do you know who your friends are?” and “Do we control technology or does technology control us?”
3. Meaningful Conversation: Conversation Starters
It’s no secret that good conversation starters spark a great discussion. We love to keep a jar of great questions on the table to read over lunch or dinner.
You can find conversation starters online or check out my set of Year-Round Conversation Starters so the work is done for you. Simply print, cut, and store the questions for meaningful and fun conversation all year long.
Subscribers to this blog receive access to a free page of “Would you Rather” conversation starters that are not included in the pack for sale. If you want to subscribe and receive access then sign up here.
4. Meaningful Conversations: Arrow and Boomerang
Reading stories together is an important part of life in our family and homeschool. Stories provide the perfect springboard into discussions about everything from friendships and family to identity and belonging.
Our discussions often occur naturally as we read through a book. Character choices, plot twists, and reoccurring themes lend themselves to a conversation. But sometimes, I like a little help to facilitate conversation.
That’s where the Brave Writer Arrow and Boomerang Guides come in handy. Each guide includes nine questions for discussion in the back. These aren’t fact recall questions or questions with one “right” answer. Instead, the Brave Writer guides help me facilitate a big, juicy conversation that allows everyone to participate.
The questions are particularly helpful when I am leading a book club discussion.
5. Meaningful Conversation: Television and Movies
Television and movies have been the source of many big, juicy conversations in our home. Whether it is a favorite TV series or a book turned into a movie, we enjoy time watching the television together.
At first, it was hard to count television and movies as valuable to our homeschool and family time. Television had always been a way for me to “get a break” or downtime when my kids were little, but it wasn’t something I considered valuable to education and family.
When I found Julie Bogart and began to implement the Brave Writer lifestyle, she taught me to consider our time in front of the television as one of the important aspects of the education in our home.
Of course, it was about this time that tweens entered the scene in our home, so it was a natural time to transition to a few family television shows and movies that even mom would enjoy.
And thank goodness for tweens and teens because I have to confess that I do not miss Kipper. Or Thomas the Train. Or Super Why.
Instead, we’ve discovered shows like The Brady Bunch which opened up discussion about the changes in society over the last few decades. My kids were interested in the fashion trends as well as the way gender differences were portrayed in the show.
We made it a tradition to watch one episode of a TV series during lunch every day. It’s become a great addition to our homeschool day. Instead of downtime for me to go take a break, I pull up a seat and enjoy lunch and a show with my kids.
Our family favorite has been the TV show, “Psych”. The inside jokes and funny lines have become standard talk in our house even though we finished the series a long time ago.
“You know that’s right.” (*wink)
We also enjoy movies as part of our education. The Brave Writer movies guides are a perfect tool if you need some discussion ideas for family movie night.
TV and movies are a FUN way to ignite conversation in your home. Instead of shying away from “TV time”, I have learned to see its value and it has been such a joy.
There are so many ways to ignite a great family conversation in your homeschool. What are some of your favorite tools?