Adults often use the end of the year as a time to take stock; to see what went right and wrong during the previous 12 months. Evaluating the past can be useful for kids as well as adults. Parents and children can discuss events of the past year to determine a course for the future.

Asking questions about positive experiences will encourage children to relive pleasant memories. However, questions about negative experiences can also be useful, if parents turn the bad into something good, by asking a child would they would do differently, what they learned, or how they can avoid similar mistakes in the future.

As the year ends, here are a dozen questions parents can use to start a fun and constructive conversation with their kids:

  • What is something you did this year that you think you will always remember?
  • What did you accomplish this year that you are most proud of?
  • If you could change one thing that happened this year, what would it be?
  • Of the books you read, which was your favorite, and why?
  • In what area do you feel you improved the most?
  • What are the three most important things you’ve learned, that you didn’t know at the start of the year?
  • What’s the nicest thing you did for someone else this year?
  • What’s the nicest thing someone did for you?
  • What person or event made the biggest impact on you this past year, and why?
  • What three words best describe the past year?
  • What do you hope to do next year that’s different from what you did this year?
  • What three things are you looking forward to next year?

Most importantly, have a discussion that emphasizes the achievements and progress your student has made in the past year, with a positive light on the year ahead.

Parents may want to write down their children’s answers, not only to review at the end of next year, but as a keepsake to document your child’s changing ideas, attitudes, and challenges as they grow up.