If you are struggling to glean details from your child’s school day, use these questions to ask your child about school. These three questions are perfect conversation starters for kids. They help your child develop a habit of talking about their school day in a way that is easy & conversational. These simple questions will lead to a meaningful conversation for you & your child (works for all ages of children- even beyond the teenage years!).
It is so interesting to observe the differences in our children’s personalities…one can be shy while the other one knocks you over to meet a new friend at the park.
One can love to be outside while the other thinks she should only be outside if it’s 72 degrees and sunny (true story).
And while one child may tell you every.single.detail from their day, the other child can be like a closed book on the top library shelf gathering dust.
Welcome to my world…and if I’m guessing right, welcome to your world too huh?
Opening the Lines of Communication
I remember picking up my younger daughter from preschool and the details start spilling out…that she had goldfish and strawberries for a snack. That Jaden got put in time-out today. That she played with Lucy on the playground. That she learned about Munching Mike (letter M) today…and more!
I also remember picking up my older daughter from 1st-grade and…silence….no, wait… I heard a sneeze.
Then more silence.
Between 3 pm and bedtime, I’m lucky if I hear one or two things about her whole day!
Seriously, it is like pulling teeth most days. My daughter, who is at or above grade level on every single subject, can’t manage to recall one thing she has learned from the day. Much less share more personal details like who she played with…who was nice to her…and who was not.
This had become such an issue that I had not even realized she had been struggling with a couple of girls at school until one of THEM came up and told me!
Something had to change.
Because I feel like NOW is the time…the time to establish open lines of communication. The time to show my kids that they can tell me ANYTHING.
That is our house, NOTHING is off-limits. That nothing needs to be kept inside & they can tell me anything.
That no mistake or fear is greater than the love I have for them.
My husband realized there was an issue as well, even though he is often only home for an hour – tops – each night with the kids. We wanted to take advantage of that time by encouraging the kids to open up.
My husband suggested having each of the kids tell us three things about their day.
Which seemed like a good idea…a start at least.
But it kind of fell flat.
Without any specific guidelines, those three “things” began to encompass everything from “I ate lunch today,” (yeah, we sort of figured) to “My teacher liked my hair today.”
A lot of kids don’t know how to respond to open-ended questions like, “How was school today?” Or “Tell me about your day.” We need to be more specific and ask specific conversation starter questions.
So while we were happy to be hearing SOMETHING, it wasn’t what we were aiming for.
Enter a mom friend…because we all know the two best sources of information in this parenting thing are experience and other moms!
I was at my good friend Heidi’s house, and while our girls did their weekly homework together, I noticed an interesting post-it note on her kitchen table.
3 Simple Questions
3 simple questions were scribbled down on that note.
3 questions I knew right away could be a game-changer for our family.
When I asked her about the post-it, she said she had seen the questions somewhere along the way and had begun using them at mealtime to open up communication with her two young children.
So now, these are the 3 questions we use as daily conversation starters for our own children.
And even though we may not get to eat together at the dinner table every night, these questions still get asked sometime over the course of the evening.
TIP: Often, a child will be more willing to talk a few hours after they are home from school when they’ve had some time to decompress, so you might want to try these questions a little later (dinner time is a great time to try them.)
3 Conversation Starters For Kids
1. Tell me one good thing you did today.
2. What is one mistake you made today?
3. Name one thing that made you smile.
Simple, aren’t they? But what makes them so awesome is that they are broad enough to make your kids think. They are still pretty open-ended, but they are more specific than “How was your day?” Plus, it really gives you insight into their day…not just what they learned today at school.
These questions give you the chance to see the social aspect of your child’s day.
There are so many good conversation starters to use, and you don’t have to use our three questions, but they are a good place to start.
You can use the list of conversation starters here on these cards or you can make up your own, such as:
– What is your favorite new TV show?
– What is your favorite color for a bedroom? Car? Outside of a house?
– What is your favorite day of the week? Why?
– What is your favorite chore? Least favorite chore?
– What did you learn in ____ today?
– What did you talk about at lunch today?
– Who did you play with at recess? What did you play?
– What was your favorite part of science class today? Why?
– If you had to teach a school subject for the rest of your life – which subject would you teach?
– What was one thing that didn’t go so well- something that you do differently about today?
They also show your children that it’s okay to make mistakes…so much so that it’s a daily expectation of a sort. It’s #2 every day for a reason.
Because we all make mistakes…every.single.day.
And because these questions are still pretty general, your kids won’t feel like you are prying into every single detail.
But the interesting thing is this – the more they share, the more comfortable it becomes.
The more they share, the more natural it is.
And the more we encourage it now, the easier it will be for our kids to share details about their lives when the details can get a lot more muddled…more difficult to share…more embarrassing…more important…
I’m hoping you will try them too! Please come back and let me know all about it!
Don’t forget to read these three words you should say to your kids every day, too.
This post was written by my dear friend, Hillary Cole- she is the mother of two wonderful daughters.