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8 Great Ways to Start a Conversation with a First Grader



The Z Report is joyful content brought to you by Andrew Utter, People and Culture Associate at Zeta. Check back often for more updates!


You’re currently reading a #joylist. Hope you enjoy!

Friends of mine who don’t work in schools or directly with kids often ask, “But how do you even talk to them? What can you talk about . . . ?” Well actually, there’s quite a lot that you can talk to a first grader about, as long as you ask the right opening question. So, feel free to borrow from the below list, created from tried and true personal experience. 

  • What did you have for dinner last night?

This is my go to. Not only is it what I’m probably already thinking about, but food is a common ground between kids and adults. We all love it. We all need it. However, there’s a non-zero chance they won’t remember, but don’t panic! Ask about breakfast or lunch instead. Either way, it’s a great way to start talking about favorite foods, which we all have. 

  • What’s your favorite animal?

Maybe this one is a personal one, but animals are how I really connect with most kids. Every kid has a favorite animal, and usually a pretty random yet entertaining reason why that animal was chosen as THE favorite. Follow up questions are endless here, and ideally, you’ll have some knowledge about this animal and will be able to feel like a smarty-pants by the end of the conversation. 

  • What superpower do you wish you had?

These answers might stick to the usual ones: flight, invisibility, strength, or speed, but there’s also a chance that you could get an answer that’s never crossed your mind before. “Cheeto fingers that always grow back” will always be a personal favorite of mine. 

  • What do you want to be when you grow up?

This is Zeta Bronx 1’s Operations Director’s personal go-to. Similar to the above, you very well might get some traditional answers, but you also might get some answers you’ve never considered. 

  • What would you wish for from a genie?

While Aladdin is no longer a movie every kid has seen, the idea still exists. You might need to define genie, but once you do, imaginations will run wild. Adult answers for this one are usually incredibly boring, but kid answers are not. You will have to hold back some judgement, as their answers will most definitely not be the answers you would give, but this is a great time to practice true listening skills.   

  • What ice cream flavor am I currently thinking of? 

This is a great way to kill time. If you are going to be with a kid for a long period of time and have exhausted all options, a game such as this will do the trick. Feel free to change your answer in your head several times to delay the game. 

  • What do you think your pet does when you leave the house?

This is a bit more advanced, and might require some additional scaffolding from the questioner, but if you are dealing with a really creative kid, this is a perfect question. Usually, this is not something that they have ever considered before, and therefore this will require a bit more support than other questions in terms of follow up questions. If you feel you’ve reached this level though, give it a whirl.  

  • What makes the best kind of friend?

Last but not least, here is a question that is great when you need a little boost in your faith in humanity. Make sure to get a notebook out in case you are looking for a new Instagram caption for that picture of you and your bestie.

Kids have legendary answers, to the point that people have compiled entire books around them. These questions are just a few to get your own anthology started. 

Best wishes from afar,