As a child, the last few weeks of summer were somewhat bittersweet. I always enjoyed the back to school season, and the rush (yes, rush) of shopping for school supplies. But as is the case for most kids, I found myself dragging my feet with a stomach full of nerves and hesitation once the first day of school rolled around. My parents, likely sensing my hesitation, always knew just what to say to calm my nerves before I left and help me process the day after I returned. The questions every mom should ask their kids after the first day of school don't have to be deep or thought provoking, but certainly, something other than "how was your day, honey?" would be helpful. As reluctant as I might have been to go back to school, knowing that I had a safe place to process it all at the end of the day was more valuable than I knew at the time.
Now that I have my own preschooler, I'm constantly thinking about ways I can make her school experience a positive one. Whether you have an anxious Kindergartener or an angst-filled middle schooler, asking them questions that go beyond surface level of their day will encourage them to think through the in's and out's of every day and give you a bit more insight into what really happens after you drop them off.
1. What Was The Best Thing About School?
Even though their answer will undoubtedly be recess, asking them about the best part of their first day back helps them think about the positive aspects of school, and not just how much their brain hurts.
2. Who Did You May Friends With?
A new year means new friends. Whether your kiddo has a hard time branching out of their comfort zone or they're a regular socialite, encouraging them to meet new friends and then asking them about it when they get home can help them be intentional and brave the next day.
Furthermore, learning about your child's school relationships can give you a pretty good idea about their mental health as well. According to a study published in Cambridge University Press, having even one friend can lessen a child's chances of developing depression and being bullied. It seems like a simple question, but it's one that will reveal a lot about their day.
3. What Is One Thing You'll Do Differently Tomorrow At School?
This one is a little bit deeper than most, but asking your child about something that didn't go as planned or the way they reacted to it can encourage them to keep a positive outlook, even if they had a rough first day.
4. What Was The Funniest Thing That Happened Today?
School isn't all doom and gloom. It's important that parents encourage their kids to have fun at school too. Ask your kid what made them laugh after their first day. Chances are, they laughed a lot, whether they want you to know or not.
5. What Is One Thing You Did Really Well Today?
According to PBS, simply asking your child about what they excelled at each day and listening to their response can help them overcome self-doubt. Even if they don't have anything that they feel like they "excelled" at, dig a little bit deeper and ask about one positive thing they did well, even if it was being kind to another person or raising their hand to answer a question. Celebrating their small wins is just as important as celebrating the big ones.
6. What Was Your Least Favorite Thing That Happened?
There are bound to be less-than-happy moments on the first day back. Whether they felt overwhelmed by the workload, didn't find a new friend, or had a bummer of a lunch, asking your child about their least favorite aspect of the day will at least encourage them to talk it through with you.
Encouraging an open dialogue about the good and the bad about school will help you uncover any potential issues sooner rather than later.
7. What Is One Kind Thing You Did For Someone Today?
According to Stop Bullying, about one in four students claim that they've been bullied at school. Encouraging your child to spread kindness and be aware of those who are less than kind can help them learn to stick up for themselves while being a positive example for their friends.
8. What Is One Thing You Learned Today?
Even though your kid probably won't want to elaborate on every subject on their first day back, asking them about one thing they learned can help them think through their day and pick one thing that stood out to tell you about. According to Raising Children, asking simple questions like this encourages your kids to let you in on their day without denying their need for independence. You can ask small children and even high schoolers the simplest of questions to get a better insight into their day.
9. How Can We Make Tomorrow An Even Better Day?
As parents, you have the ability to help your child refocus, even after a bad day. Help them see that they have control over their day and, with your help, choose one thing to focus on bettering tomorrow.