Are you met with silence when you ask your kids about school? Check out these 18 effective questions to ask kids “how was school?”
If your child is like mine and you ask him, “How was school?” his response—every day—would be “Good.” Not a single change from one day to the next.
One time I even asked, “What did you do at school today?” and he still said, “Good.”
Clearly we were having communication issues here. I didn’t mean to pry—I just wanted him to talk about school and gauge what he likes and doesn’t. Where he struggles, and the general flow of his day.
I wanted to ask him about school, and not with the typical (and much expected) question of “How was school?”
Sneaky but effective questions to ask kids “How was school?”
So I started asking different questions to prod the stories out, including:
Social questions (to learn about his friendships)
Ever wonder whom your kids hang out with? Or maybe you’re curious if they’re socializing all right with other kids. These specific questions can help you discover the answers to those questions.
- Where in school do you hang out the most?
- Who did you talk to today? or Who did you help today?
- Who did you play with at recess?
- Who do you sit next to in class?
- What’s a nice thing you said to someone today? or What’s a nice thing someone said to you today?
Best or worst questions
Kids love rating things as the best or worst, giving them the excuse to rave or vent.
- What do you like to do most at recess?
- What’s your favorite part of school? or What’s your least favorite part of school?
- What’s the best thing that happened to you at school today? or What’s the worst thing that happened to you at school today?
- What did you like best about your lunch?
What you learned questions
Here’s where you can ask questions about what they learn throughout the day.
- What’s the first thing you do when you get to school? or What’s the last thing you do before you end your day at school?
- What book did you read at story time today?
- Tell me the hardest thing you had to do in school today.
- What are some of the rules you follow in school?
School functions questions
Some school days are more special than others. Kids will remember these off-days more than others. They’re good opportunities to get kids talking while they’re excited.
- Where at school did you take your photos for school picture day?
- What flavor were the birthday cupcakes?
- Why did your school have an earthquake drill (or other drill)?
- How did you celebrate Valentine’s Day (or other holiday)?
Of course some days I’ll ask my son these questions and he’ll still shrug and say, “I don’t know.” But for the most part, he opens up more than if I had only asked the generic question of “How was school?”
And the best tactic so far to get him to open up?
- Be quiet. Wait for your kids to bring up things that happened at school.
When I stay silent, my son will share stories about his day. He’ll tell me about his third grade reading buddy, using the computer lab, and every detail the teacher said.
The most important part? Listen without judgment. Watch your reactions so your kids feel like they can tell you anything. Make it easy for them to open up about their day and even admit mistakes and vulnerabilities.
Simply listen and be there for your child without jumping to conclusions or solving his problems. He will appreciate this far more than any advice you can offer.
Nowadays I don’t even ask about school that often and instead rely on him to open up. And if he doesn’t? I have my fall-back questions that draw more responses than my old, “How was school?” question.
Get more tips:
- Are You Asking Open Ended Questions or Squashing Conversation?
- What to Do when Your Child Disrespects You
- “What Would You Do?”: Questions You Need to Ask Your Child to Keep Her Safe
- How to Respond when Your Child Makes a Mistake
- How to Stop Nagging Your Child to Get Stuff Done
Tell me in the comments: What are your favorite ways to ask kids, “How was school?”
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