Getting your child talking about their day

Every day when I pick the kids up from school, I typically ask how their day was. I sometimes get the grumble of “fine” or “good,” and sometimes I get a brief few sentences about something that happened. “Emily cried at lunch today” or “I have an art project due.”

But parents are well used to receiving the first one-word response. Sometimes you have ask a bunch of follow-up questions just to get your kid to give you some information about what happened during their day. And even then you may not learn anything new.

On the second week of school, our principal sent out a link to a post with 25 ways to ask your child ‘How was school today?’ without asking that exact questions. The principal said he had not only been asking his own kids these questions but also asking the students at school, and it had resulted in some interesting conversations.

The questions looked good, so I decided to give it a try. I copied them into a Word document and then printed them out. I cut them into strips, so I could randomly draw a question and ask the kids.

Lexie was very excited to answer the questions and always wanted to do more than one. Jase, on the other hand, didn’t seem as thrilled. He actually suggested doing away with the envelope of questions.

I think Lexie’s favorite question was “If an alien spaceship came to your class and beamed someone up, who would you want them to take?” She mentioned a trouble-making boy from her class. Jase couldn’t think of anyone he wanted gone.

But neither one of them could tell me what their teacher would say if I called her up that evening to ask about them.

While it was an interesting experiment to do for a few days, we have already misplaced the list of questions (or perhaps Jase followed through with his threat to make them disappear.) We are back to asking each child at dinner (as we eat at the dinner table) about their day. They always come up with something to tell us.

And if is something particular is bothering them we may not hear about it at dinner time, but you know that they will begin talking at bedtime. It seems to be their favorite stalling technique. Most often we let them voice their concerns and offer some advice. But if it is truly late, and we know it is just a stalling technique (such as the “I am scared about wolves”), we typically cut them off and tell them to get to sleep.

Either way whether it is at dinner or at bedtime, I am glad the kids both know they can talk to us about their day or things that they are concerned about. And I will keep the website of questions bookmarked so I can return to it and maybe bring back the questions if they decide to go back to one-word answers.


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