Now that school is back in session, I’m sure that you’re like me and want to know how your child’s day at school went, so you ask, “How was school today?” And if your kid is anything like mine, you get a one word answer, like “fine” or “good.” Or even better, “What did you do at school today?” answered with “nothing.” Whenever I get that answer, I have to fight the urge to say, “So you just sat at your desk and stared at the wall all day?” Okay, so maybe I actually have said that. More than once. Oops.
I know most of us are hoping for a little more information from our children so we know that they are being successful in school, that they are making friends, being nice and respectful, etc. So here are some questions that might yield more responses than “fine.”
- What was your favorite activity today? Now, this might need a follow-up because my kid is likely to say, “gym” (even though he actually does like other subjects). So follow it up with, “Tell me what you did in gym that was so fun.” Or if you know they will always say the same thing, make it subject specific: What was your favorite part of math/reading/history, etc. today?
- What is the most interesting thing you learned today? Of course, as a teacher, I am sure that students learn at least one thing each day. The beginning of the year may involve some review that they did actually already know, and even my first grader came home the first couple days to tell me it was boring because he already knew everything! But hopefully after those first couple weeks, much of what they are taught is new and building on what they already know.
- What did you do today that was challenging? Hopefully they won’t just say nothing. But if they constantly say this, it might be worth pursuing. If everything seems easy to your child, maybe they really aren’t being challenged and it is something that you can approach the teacher about.
- What is one good thing that happened today? This could even be adapted with what did you do that was good/nice/helpful today? Or, what is one good/nice/helpful thing that someone else did for you? Sometimes it helps the child see that even in a rough day, something good probably did happen.
- Who did you play with at recess today and what did you do? (older kids: Who did you sit with at lunch today?) We all want our kids to make friends and hope they aren’t sitting there alone. If you find that they say no one, you can follow up. Perhaps your child just wanted to be alone that day, or maybe there was an argument with their best friend.
- Who in your class/at recess/at lunch could use a friend? Besides hoping our own children have friends, I think we all hope there are no children without a friend. We want to believe our own children aren’t excluding others and they are kind to everyone, but unfortunately sometimes kids just get excluded. If they give you a name, it can give you a chance to find out why your child thinks that someone else is left out, and maybe you can give them a lesson in kindness to encourage them to ask the child to play the next day.
- What is the best thing about your school? I asked my classes this in a little quick write last year, and for kids who can moan and groan about school, their answers made me smile. There was a lot that they did enjoy about school, from specific teachers or courses to the variety of activities offered to the diversity of students. If you want to be more specific, ask what’s the best thing about your teacher? Or your class?
- What is one thing that you would change about your school? Older kids answers will be especially telling. As a high school teacher, I know kids have no problems telling you what they hate about school rules, but sometimes their answers can also be really insightful. They recognize the problems and often have interesting solutions.
- If you could teach the class tomorrow, what would you teach them? I mean, I’m sure right now my first grader would say something about WWE, so it’s maybe not the most insightful question about what they know from school, but kids often love the idea of being able to teach others so it’s at least a fun question for them.
- What did you have for lunch today? Or, Who had the best lunch today and what was it? If all else fails, this is my go-to. On the days my son eats school lunch, it helps me know that he actually ate something. Now that he’s taking his lunch more this year, maybe hearing what he thought was the best food someone else had will give me ideas about what to pack for him (besides what he’d pick every day: Lunchables)! No one minds that I steal your good lunch ideas, right? Seriously, I’m going to need them.
Hopefully you have a starting point here on new ways to get information from your child about their school day. But try to hold back from asking too many questions in one day! I’m good if I can get one of these questions answered! Feel free to share your own questions to get the kids talking.