While the executive producer of the Ellen DeGeneres Show insists that there is no formula for raising children, we’d like to borrow a bit of the chemistry that he and his wife have Allison Holker cooked to lead daughters Weslie, 13, and Zaia, 19 months, and son Maddox, 5.

“There are certain principles,” he recently told E! News on their approach, “which are open communication and make sure your kids feel heard and supported. And then we just take it from there.” Their way of raising children includes heaps of time together, a dash of family dance parties, and a healthy dose of honest, engaging conversation.

With Weslie in particular, he said: “We make sure that we try to stay away from the general questions at the dining table normally.” The standard “How was school today?” is always accompanied by follow-ups, he explained, “and then questions that stimulate conversation: ‘If you could own an apartment anywhere in the world and travel there anytime, where would it be and why?’ Then we get a glimpse of where she wants to go or where she thinks about living when she is older. “