How often do you ask your child how school was today? or “How was your day?” and got an answer of more than one word? If you receive anything more intelligent than a grunt or a sidelong glance in your direction, you may even count yourself lucky. But the truth is that we really do want to know what happened between drop-off and pick-up in order to observe how they are responding to their experiences and how they are navigating the world without us. This is in addition to keeping up to date with what they are learning, experiencing, and being exposed to. Sometimes it works to ask them a more direct question than “How was your day?” in order to elicit a more thorough response.
After a while, it appears like a common query like “How was school?” is just background noise to children. It blends in with the noises of the pantry or refrigerator opening, of shoes and backpacks hitting the floor, and of steps rushing up the stairs as the soundtrack to returning home on a weekday. Ask a topic that will make them ponder for at least a few seconds, such as, “Did anyone make you laugh today?” Or, if they’ve mentioned a certain classmate or instructor in the past, ask about them to obtain a nice response about their day.
Additionally, we simply want them to spill the beans because a) we’re curious beings, b) we want to know what they’re exposed to so we can have mature talks with them, and c) we want to do everything in our power to prepare them to deal with challenging situations with composure.
What do they like, find boring, and irritate them? What kinds of social contexts do they prefer? When do they feel most safe and when do they experience insecurity? Any knowledge we can gain about our children makes it possible for us to be more attentive, involved, and knowledgeable parents. As a result, we are better able to decide whether to take initiative and push boundaries, offer protection, or remain passive and let things play out.
For children from preschool age and older, here are some questions to ask during pick-up or when they return home from school.
• Did everyone treat you well today? • Has anything occurred that offended or frustrated you? • What happened today that was the funniest? • Did I miss you? (Only ask this if you're prepared for any response.) • What made you grin today, specifically? • What did you learn today that was the coolest? • How are you, [name of buddy or classmate]? What games or topics did you guys discuss? • What types of tasks did you complete today? • Did somebody on the bus make you laugh? • On the bus, did anyone encounter any issues? • You sang any tunes, right? • Have you observed any holidays or birthdays today? • Have you planted, painted, drawn, played, or engaged in [insert interest] today? • How are you today, [name] and [name]? (An additional inquiry to see whether you are aware of previous instances of classmates not getting along.) • Was today's lunch satisfying? Anything you need for tomorrow? • What games did you play during recess? • What books have you read lately? • A strange or unpleasant incident occurred today? • What happened today that you thought was the best? • Did you sit next to or converse with a stranger today? • Did you today lend a hand to anyone? • Do you have any help today? • Have you heard anything from your teacher about upcoming events? (Book fairs, swap meets, outings, etc.) • What clubs would you like to join the following time?
Some days, thinking of a question other than “How was your day?” can seem like an impossible task, but if you make the effort, you might discover that your kids will, too.
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