Are you met with silence when you ask your child about her day at school? Check out these 18 effective questions to ask kids about school.
If your child is like mine and you ask her, “How was school?” her response—every day—would be “Good.” Not a single change from one day to the next.
One time I even asked one of my kids, “What did you do today?” and he still said, “Good.”
Clearly, we were having communication issues here. I don’t mean to pry—I just want my kids to talk and gauge what they liked and didn’t like. To see where they struggled, and the general flow of their day.
I want to ask them 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?”
Understandably, we can’t expect kids to elaborate on their day by asking a general question like “How was school?” Instead, we need to ask telling, open-ended questions to get them to recall what had happened and share more of how they feel.
I also suggest not peppering your child with too many questions all at once. In fact, focus on one question and branch off of that. The last thing you want is for her to feel interrogated, especially with many unrelated questions.
To get you started asking different questions, take a look at these prompts, grouped in different types:
Ever wonder whom your child hang out with? Or maybe you’re curious if she’s socializing all right with other kids. These specific questions can help you discover the answers to those questions and learn more about her friendships.
- Where 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?
- What’s the best thing that happened to you today? or What’s the worst thing that happened to you today?
- What did you like best about your lunch?
What you learned questions
Here’s where you can ask questions about what she learned 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. Your child will remember these off-days more than others. They’re good opportunities to get her talking while she’s 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 another holiday)?
Of course, some days I’ll ask my kids these questions and they’ll still shrug and say, “I don’t know.” But for the most part, they open up more than if I had only asked the generic question of “How was school?”
And the best tactic so far to get them to open up?
- Be quiet. Wait for your kids to bring up things that happened.
When I stay silent, they’ll share stories about their day. They’ll tell me about the books they read, their plans for the next day, and every detail the teacher said.
The most important part? Listen without judgment. Watch your reactions so your child feels like she can tell you anything. Make it easy for her to open up about her day and even admit mistakes and vulnerabilities.
Simply listen and be there for her without jumping to conclusions or solving her problems. She 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 my kids to open up. And if they don’t? I have my fallback questions that draw more responses than my old, “How was school?” question.
Get more tips:
- 20 Open Ended Questions for Kids
- 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
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