Wednesday, May 22, 2013

How Was School Today? How I Got My Kids to Talk to Me.

My son is currently finishing up first grade while my daughter is in the last few days of 3K at the same school.  Each day I picked them up I would ask the same questions:  How was school today?  What did you do?  These questions always resulted in the same answers from both of them:  Fine. I don't know/nothing.

So I decided to change it up a little and ask them to tell me three things about their day.  It always resulted in the same answers, "I got a _____ in conduct," "I ate ____ for lunch,"  and "I worked on _____."  That third one was the only one that was news to me because they always brought home a sheet telling me about their daily conduct, and I packed their lunches.

So this was a good start, but not really the deep, meaningful conversation filled with delight and variety that I was looking for.

Time to change it up again.

So now I ask them each the following question:  Tell me a way today that you 1.) worked, 2.) played, and 3.) helped.

This finally gets me the answers I am looking for!  These are things I want to hear about their day and the answers usually give me enough information that I can delve further in with questions about details.  And if I start getting the same answers day after day, I ask for a different answer ("you've told me that three days in a row now; please give me another example").

It works great with my son and my daughter is picking up on it, although her definition of "helping" is not usually what I'm looking for ("I helped my friends by coming to look at something when they called me.").

What about you?  Do you have this same problem with your kids?  Have you found a solution that works for your family? 

Posted as part of Works for Me Wednesday at We Are THAT Family.  Check out the other great tips from other great blogs!


  1. My son would always come home and say "I can't remember" when I would ask how his day was. He was even reluctant to talk about anything and would try to escape my questions. I found over time that it worked best if I asked him about some of the kids in his class and he would start to open up and "remember" parts of his day. I like the idea to use focused, open questions and will definitely be trying that more.

    1. Great idea to ask about his friends! My son LOVES his friends and would easily tell me what THEY did.

  2. My dad used to ask us questions about our classmates that were different every day, like, "Who has the biggest nose?" and "Who is best at reading aloud?" This was fun and sometimes led to longer conversations about things that happened at school.

    I had looked forward to playing this game with my son, but he firmly believes it's "not fair" to single out someone as the most or best or whatever--and I think he's got a point. Instead, I start with, "How was your day?" and he does sometimes tell me about something; if not, I ask, "How was the field trip?" or "What did you do in math?" or "Who did you talk with at lunch?" and that usually brings out some details. He's in second grade.

    1. Isn't it funny how you thought your dad's methods were great and your son didn't respond to them? Kids are SO DIFFERENT from another - it just reinforces how there is no one good method. Regardless, I think it's just important to get them talking and let them know that you are truly interested in their lives. =)