Why don’t I ask, “What’s your favorite color?”

By Lacey Hunter

We’ve all been there. We meet a new student or a friend’s toddler, and in an effort to show that we want to get to know the child and make connections, we ask, “What’s your favorite color?”

Kids usually have the boilerplate answer ready to go when a well-meaning adult asks the predictable question. Telling someone your favorite color is as standard as relaying your name, age, or birthday.

Just like the rest of the world, I spent two years on sometimes-awkward Zoom meetings participating in icebreaker activities, including answering “favorites” questions. When asked “What’s your favorite color?” my gut response went something like, I love to wear emerald green and also like that color for bathroom walls, pink and peach sunsets make me happy, I have fond memories of the yellow coffee cups in my college apartment, when I went shopping for a new purse last week I was really drawn to royal blues, I have a favorite purple ballpoint pen, the neighbors chose an amazing shade of rusty orange for their porch… and on and on. Why on earth would I commit to ONE color and declare it my favorite when there are basically endless colors and hues to choose from!? Have we considered how limiting it might be to ask a child to choose their favorite?? There are 18 decillion colors out there!

What if we make a simple adjustment to this well-intentioned inquiry? What if we ask, “What colors do you love?” and let them tell us about the orange backpack they carry everywhere, their super soft pink blanket, and the purple sweater they never want to take off. What if we stopped ourselves from asking them what their favorite animal is and instead ask a question that invites them to share about the myriad animal facts they know and the stories they have about their neighbor’s dog and the kangaroo they saw at the zoo and the spider they rescued from the kitchen?

As innocent and well-intentioned the question “What’s your favorite color?” is, let’s kick it to the curb and open up the possibilities.

Lacey is a preschool teacher at the Inspired Teaching Demonstration Public Charter School in Washington DC. She was in the 2016 cohort of residents through Center for Inspired Teaching. She is originally from Idaho and has been in the District since 2014. When she’s not in her classroom, Lacey loves riding her bike, working in her garden, playing with her two Savannah cats, and spending time with her family. She thinks spring in DC is the bees knees and she’s so excited to be outdoors with her students! 


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