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30 Questions To Ask Kids When They Get Home From School

“How was school today?” just isn’t cutting it.

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How many times have you asked your child “How was school today?” or “How was your day?” and received a more-than-one-word response? You might even consider yourself lucky if you get anything more articulate than a grunt or a glance in your direction. But the thing is, we really do want to hear about what went down between drop-off and pick-up, not only to stay informed about what they are learning, experiencing, and exposed to, but to see how they are responding to their experiences and how they are navigating the world when we aren’t there. To get a more substantial response, sometimes it helps to throw them a more specific question than “How was your day?”

At some point, it seems that a generic question like “How was school?” simply becomes background noise to kids. It’s just part of the soundtrack of coming home on a weekday, blending in with the sounds of the refrigerator or pantry door opening, backpacks and sneakers hitting the floor, and steps running up the stairs. To get a good answer about their day, ask a question that they’ll be forced to spend at least a few seconds thinking about, like whether anyone made them laugh that day, inquire about a specific classmate or teacher they’ve brought up before.

Plus, we just really want them to spill the tea because a) we’re curious humans, b) we want to know what they’re being exposed to so we can have responsible conversations with them, and c) we want to prepare them as much as possible to handle tricky situations with a level head.

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What do they enjoy, what bores them, what infuriates them? What types of social settings do they thrive in? When are they most comfortable and when do they feel insecure? Any information we can get about our kids helps us be more thoughtfully active and informed parents, and from there we can make more thoughtful decisions to push and courage, protect, or sit on the sidelines and let things ride out.

Here are some questions to ask your kids at pick-up or when they get home from school, for kids from preschool age to older.

  1. Was everyone nice to you today?
  2. Did anything happen that made you frustrated or upset?
  3. What was the funniest thing that happened today?
  4. Did you miss me? (Only ask this one if you can handle any response)
  5. What’s one thing that made you smile today?
  6. What’s the coolest thing you learned today?
  7. How’s [insert friend or classmate’s name]? What did you guys play or talk about?
  8. What kinds of projects did you work on today?
  9. Did anyone make you laugh on the bus?
  10. Did anyone get in trouble on the bus?
  11. Did you sing any songs?
  12. Did you celebrate any birthdays or holidays today?
  13. Did you plant/paint/draw/play [you can specify their interest] today?
  14. How were [name] and [name] today? (A follow-up question to ask if you’re aware of classmates not getting along previously)
  15. Was your lunch good today? Any requests for tomorrow?
  16. What did you play during recess?
  17. What did you read today?
  18. Did anything weird or embarrassing happen today?
  19. What was the best thing that happened today?
  20. Did you sit next to or talk to anyone new today?
  21. Did you help anyone with anything today?
  22. Did anyone help you today?
  23. Are there any events coming up that the teacher told you about? (Book fairs, clothing swaps, field trips, etc.)
  24. Are there any clubs you wish you could join next time?
  25. Do you have any regrest about the day?
  26. What do you wish you could do again tomorrow?
  27. What did you do with your hands today?
  28. Did you learn about any new people today?
  29. Did anything or anyone make you feel uncomfortable today?
  30. Who was the funnest teacher today and why?

On some days, coming up with a question that goes beyond “How was your day?” can feel like a herculean chore, but if you put in the bit of extra effort, you might find that your children will too.

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