15 Questions to Replace “How Was School Today?”
Tips for Asking Questions
How and when parents ask questions may make a big difference. Avoid asking all of the suggested questions [listed further in this article] on the same day. Try starting with one or two, and after a while, focus on the ones that elicit the most meaningful responses. Talk to your child during a time when you have the ability to focus so that your child feels he or she has your full attention.
The following can help your conversations be positive and powerful:
- Don’t interrupt. Thoughtful listening is a good rule for any conversation – try to focus on what your child is really saying before responding
- Ask for more. Simply say, “Tell me more about...” Or, “What happened after…?”
- Ask about feelings. After your child describes an experience, ask, “How did you feel when…?”
- Validate feelings. Whatever your child feels is normal and okay – let him or her know this
- Thank them for sharing with you. Always appreciate their honesty and willingness to share the highlights and bright spots, as well as the difficult moments. This will fuel their confidence in telling you more.
With slight wording modifications, use these questions with children of all ages:
- Tell me about a moment today when you felt excited about what you were learning.
- Tell me about a moment in class when you felt confused or unsure.
- Think about something that your teacher explained how to do, or something that the teacher taught your class. What’s something you’d like to know more about? What’s a question you have that came from your learning today?
- Were there any times today when you felt worried? When you felt scared? Tell me what happened.
- Were there any times today when you felt frustrated or discouraged? Tell me about those moments.
- Were there times today when you felt that someone was being really caring and kind?
- Were there any moments today when you felt proud of yourself? What happened?
- Tell me about something that made you laugh today.
- What was something challenging that you did today? Did you succeed?
- What is one thing that you especially remember a friend or classmate saying?
- What did you learn about someone else or about yourself today?
- What is something confusing that you heard or saw that I might be able to help you figure out?
- Is there anything you’re excited about? Tell me a little about it.
- What are you looking forward to doing tomorrow?
- Is there a question you wish I’d ask about your day?
What's most important, perhaps, is that when you ask questions, you ask with an open heart and an open mind – be willing to listen to whatever they say, as well as willing to listen for what's not said. Everyone deserves to feel “heard,” and listening is a powerful way to connect with our children.
Dr. Sarah Kedroski
November 9, 2016