As a new parent of a child who is attending school, I have noticed that I ask my child the same questions everyday in pursuit of how things went. I tend to ask similar questions at school of the students I sit around the lunch table with or pass in the hallway. Questions can reveal quickly what we value as parents, and unfortunately in my own reflection of my questions, I notice that my questions may have the ability to convey misplaced priorities. When we are chiefly concerned with asking whether or not a student got an A on the assignment, if they got in trouble, or are concerned with the amount of points scored, these questions set what we as parents value, and our children begin to value them as well. Many parents, myself included, ask these without thinking and therefore can establish misplaced expectations upon our students.
I offer up the daily prayer of examination from St. Ignatius that might provide beneficial questions that we might ask instead. This Daily Examen from St. Ignatius is a set of questions that help us reflect and detect God’s presence and guide us in His direction for our lives. In taking these questions meant for ourselves in prayer, I have found them to be also great questions to ask my boys when I see them after school.
Daily Examen Prayer Questions
- Become aware of God’s presence.
- Review the day with gratitude.
- Pay attention to your emotions.
- Choose one feature of the day and pray from it.
- Look toward tomorrow.
Questions Derived from Daily Examen
- Did you experience or feel the presence of the Lord today?
- What were you thankful for today?
- What emotions did you experience?
- What are you looking forward to?
These questions alter what we are seeking from our children and do not place all the curiosity on whether or not they achieved the A or the most points. These questions have also been utilized again with the students in my school, as well as with those with whom I work. I am constantly fighting small talk and harmful questions, and these questions drawn from Ignatius’ Daily Examen have helped deepen conversation.
In hopes of continuing to expand my repertoire of helpful questions, here are a few others that I lean on.
- What are the best two things/worst two things that happened today?
- Did you contribute today?
- What did you learn about yourself today (possibly in failure)?
- What did you fail in today? How do you plan to re-write that failure?
I hope these questions elicit a helpful reflection of what you ask about and equip us all for better conversation that communicates what is worthwhile and valuable. What other questions have you found to communicate what you care about to your students on a daily basis?