My son is not a talker. OK, let me rephrase that. My son is not a talker when it comes to him telling us about his day at school. Otherwise, we learn every detail about his dreams, his plans for his allowance, and whatever stories his imagination comes up with. He is an extrovert and is very social. He starts talking to unfamiliar kids very easily. But when it comes to sharing his day at school with us, it just does not go anywhere.
My son started kindergarten two weeks ago. At the beginning, the moment I saw him getting off the bus, I would start asking about what happened at school: “Tell me about your day,” or “What happened today at school?”. Bad move. This approach did not work with my son. He would say “Good” or “I don’t remember”. He loves going outside to the school playground, so he would tell me a couple of things on his own like these: “If there is a tree on our schedule it means we get to play outside at the park” or “We did not go to the yellow park today; only to the blue one”.
I wanted more information about his day at school. So I scoured the internet to find out how to get my son talking about his day at school.
And I found something awesome here, on the Simple Simon and Company website. It is a list of 25 open-ended questions that, of course, open the communication between parents and their kids.
25 questions for your elementary school child
#1. What was the best thing that happened at school today? (What was the worst thing that happened at school today?)
#2. Tell me something that made you laugh today.
#3. If you could choose who would you like to sit by in class? (Who would you NOT want to sit by in class? Why?)
#4. Where is the coolest place at the school?
#5. Tell me a weird word that you heard today. (Or something weird that someone said.)
#6. If I called your teacher tonight what would she tell me about you?
#7. How did you help somebody today?
#8. How did somebody help you today?
#9. Tell me one thing that you learned today.
#10. When were you the happiest today?
#11. When were you bored today?
#12. If an alien spaceship came to your class and beamed up someone who would you want them to take?
#13. Who would you like to play with at recess that you’ve never played with before?
#14. Tell me something good that happened today.
#15. What word did your teacher say most today?
#16. What do you think you should do/learn more of at school?
#17. What do you think you should do/learn less of at school?
#18. Who in your class do you think you could be nicer to?
#19. Where do you play the most at recess?
#20. Who is the funniest person in your class? Why is he/she so funny?
#21. What was your favorite part of lunch?
#22. If you got to be the teacher tomorrow what would you do?
#23. Is there anyone in your class that needs a time out?
#24. If you could switch seats with anyone in the class who would you trade with? Why?
#25. Tell me about three different times you used your pencil today at school.
Maybe not all of the questions will work for my son, but I am sure that many of them will spark the conversation between us and him.
If you guys go here, please read the comments that follow the blog post. They give more insight into why a particular question was asked and why we shouldn’t read in negative connotations behind the questions.
I think most of these questions are very helpful not only if the child goes to school, but also if they are away from us a whole day such as going to a day home or a daycare, or a camp.
Do you have older kids? Here are 25 questions that you can try asking them if you want to communicate with them.
Here are some other questions that I added to the 25 questions for your elementary school child list. I got them from the comments of the blog post I mentioned above.
- Did you think today went fast, slow or usual? Why do you think that is?
- Did anything or anyone surprise you today?
- If you were going to give today a grade, what would it be? Why?
- Did you have to borrow something from someone today? (Did someone have to borrow something from you today?)
- Did someone tell you “Thank You” today?
- Did someone tell you they loved you today?
- What did you learn that was new and interesting today?
- What good question did you ask today?
What we did on the first day
- I printed the list of 25 questions and taped it on the inside of one of my kitchen cupboards.
- I stopped asking my son about his day the second he got off from the school bus.
- I let him decompress, have lunch, and play with his sister.
- He still naps, so when I tucked him in, I chose one question to ask him.
- When my husband got home, I updated him on what I found out about my son’s day at school. Then my husband asked him another question from the list. I was around when this happened, so I got to hear more about my son’s day at school.
- When we tucked him in bed at night, we chose another question from the list.
- At breakfast the next day we asked him another question.
The questions we tried first
Who is your best friend?
What was the best thing that happened?
What was the worst thing that happened?
Who made you laugh today?
Who did you help today?
Who helped you today?
It really works!
When my son got off the bus, I made sure I told him I was happy to see him and gave him a hug.
On our walk back home I started asking him questions. I told myself I would not ask, but I could not wait any longer to find out how his day went. It takes 15 minutes to get home (on a walk that would take me 1 or 2 minutes by myself) because his sister, he, and I all walk from the bus stop to our house. This gave him a lot of time to talk. Which he did thanks to this great list of questions. It turns out that he had a great day at school, which probably helped him be open with me. He “loved everything” and “the only bad thing was when he was sweaty from too much playing outside” – which I consider being a good thing.
During the day he told us who his best friends are, then he steered the conversation towards who was nice to him and who was not. Then we talked about what he should do when other kids are mean to him. And how to be nice to other kids.
Breakfast time was also a good time for my son to open up. At breakfast we could not stop him from talking about his day at school.
All in all, I think this was a great first try and we will keep asking him the right questions so that he continues to share his outside-of-home life with us.
If your child is not a natural teller about how school went, what questions do you use to start a conversation about school with them?
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net