Fine: the worst answer parents hear when asking their kids, “How was your day?” As parents, we dread the monosyllabic responses such as fine, nothing, good. If we want to really know how our kids’ days unfolded, we need to ask better questions.
Drawing details out of our kids can be a daunting task. Most likely because they’ve spent the entire school day answering questions: questions they knew, questions they didn’t know, and questions that caught them by surprise. They’ve been following rules all day, mostly sitting down, and they simply want to let go and unwind.
But as parents, we want those details. Those details let us know our kids are okay. We’re on the lookout for red flags signalling academic trouble, social trouble, and confidence trouble. The more questions we ask, the more information we gather to make important decisions. But if all our answers lack details, we’re left unsure how the day went.
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How we phrase questions plays an important role in how our kids answer them. The more open-ended the question, the more likely the response will contain the details we’re seeking. For example, instead of asking “Did you have a good day today?”, which could be answered with either a yes or no response, a better question would be “What made your day good today?”.
Check out these 20 questions to elicit a fuller picture of how your child’s day progressed without you:
1. What book or movie best describes your day?
2. When were you happiest today?
3. When were you saddest today?
4. What two things did you learn about today?
5. What did you play during recess?
6. What was the funniest thing that you saw today?
7. What happened during ___________________ today? (lunch, math, science, reading…)
8. What was the best part about lunch today?
9. What would you have taught your classmates today?
10. How were you helpful today?
11. How were you kind today?
12. How were other classmates helpful today?
13. How were other classmates kind today?
14. How did someone help you today?
15. What rule was difficult to follow today?
16. How did your classmates treat each other today?
17. Did you hear anything weird today? (new word, puzzling statement…)
18. What song best describes today?
19. What would you teach if you were the teacher?
20. If you could re-do today, what would you change?
When that final bell rings, many students look forward to the change in their day. Whether they’re heading off to an after school activity or heading home, both allow students an outlet to decompress. While parents want to gain immediate knowledge, sometimes our kids need time away from school before they want to talk about it.
On our walks (or drives) home from school, I avoid asking about my daughter’s day. I greet her with a healthy snack because hangry looms large after that last bell rings. As she snacks, we listen to her current favorite songs, make up stories, or literally talk about anything except school — unless she brings it up. Otherwise, I wait an hour. Incorporating that decompression time seems crucial for answers beyond the monosyllabic “fine”. And while I’m dying to know about her day, I make myself wait.
More times than not, I’m rewarded for my patience with a rundown of the day’s events.
Do you have a favorite question that gets your kids talking about their day? Share it below!