If you’re like many parents, you may be unsure what questions to ask your child about school in order to get a detailed response. Many parents, eager to hear about all the details of a child’s day, immediately ask a generic, “How was your day?” when they pick their child up from school. They hope to hear a long description of learning activities, playtime with friends, and their feelings throughout the day. However, for many parents, their question results in a simple, one-word response with no details, stories, or additional dialogue.
For most young children, a question like “How was your day?” is too broad for them to connect to specific parts of their day. In order to engage a child in conversation or to get them excited to share details, parents can ask more direct questions that encourage connections to feelings or experiences they might have encountered during their day. It is important not to overwhelm a young child with too many questions. You might try one or two questions each day to foster interesting conversations, reflections, and connections.
Use these questions to ask your child about school:
- Did you sing any songs today? What songs did you sing?
- What is something that made you laugh today?
- What was the best part of your day?
- Did you read any books today? What did you read about?
- Did you paint, draw a picture, or create something new?
- Did you help anyone today? How did you help?
- Did you do anything messy today? What did you do? Did you like the activity?
- Who did you play with today? What did you play?
- Did you try anything new today?
- What is something you hope to do tomorrow?
Creating Habits of Conversation
It takes time and practice for young children to build conversation skills. At first, parents will likely need to help their child respond by offering them time, suggesting a few responses, and modeling a reply.
To help develop your child’s conversation skills, begin by asking one of these questions about their day. Then, pause to give several seconds to give them an opportunity to respond. This wait time allows them to process the question and consider their response. If your child struggles to answer after that time, offer them choices of possible answers. For example, after asking them about something that made them laugh, you might ask, “Did you read a funny story, laugh with a friend, or did your teacher do something silly?” Then, take time to answer the question about your day, further modeling how to respond to these types of questions.
These early question-and-answer routines teach children how to talk about their day. It also provides opportunities for connection between you and your child. And, once children start talking, they are more likely to share beyond the questions they are asked. While it can take some work to develop a comfort with these conversations, the practice will create habits of conversation that last far beyond their preschool years.
If you found these questions to ask your child about school helpful, you may be interested in some ideas on how to extend these conversations beyond the school day. Visit the National Association for the Education of Young Children’s post on Ideas to Spark Rich Conversations with Your Children!