My youngest is usually eager to share the highlights of her day at preschool and daycare—she tells me who needed a bandaid, who got in trouble, or who peed their pants. But when it comes to digging a little bit deeper for details about their day, especially with my older school-age child, my kids usually need a little coaxing. Even though I’m so excited to talk to them after pick-up, often the car ride home from school and daycare is pretty quiet as they eat their snacks and decompress. Asking them “how was your day?” or “how was school?” doesn’t elicit much conversation.
I get it. They’ve been around other people all day and probably want a little time to be by themselves. I’ve found the best information usually comes out later at dinnertime or as we snuggle before bed.
As parents, I think we’re so eager to hear about their days because we’ve missed them (of course), but we really want to quiet our own underlying worries when our kids aren’t in our care. We want to know whether they felt safe, were happy, acted like a good friend, and were treated as a good friend by their peers. Plus, it’s fun to get a peek into their new experiences and new learnings.
To help, we pulled together a list of 27 questions to ask kids instead of “how was your day?” Check out these conversation-starters below!
1. Who made you laugh today?
2. Who was in your group today?
3. Who did you sit by at lunch?
4. Is there someone you want to be friends with but aren’t yet?
5. Who did you play with?
6. Was anyone sitting by themselves today? Who?
7. What do you like about “X” friends (whoever they talk about most)?
8. Did anything make you feel happy today?
9. Did anything make you feel sad today?
10. Tell me about one thing you did today made you feel proud (and why it made you feel that way).
11. Did anything make you feel worried or uncomfortable today?
12. Tell me something you know today that you didn’t know yesterday.
13. What do you wish you learned today?
14. Can you teach me a song you sang?
15. Tell me about a story you read/listened to.
16. Describe something you saw outside today. I will try to guess what it was.
17. What was the most challenging thing you did today?
On Classroom Dynamics
18. What made your teacher smile today?
19. Did you see anyone being kind/unkind today?
20. What was the most surprising thing that happened today?
21. Did you see somebody who needed help today? What happened?
22. What would you change about today if you could?
23. What games did you play at recess?
24. What did you create today?
25. Tell me about one thing you did today that you didn’t enjoy.
26. Tell me about XX (insert subject your child’s teacher has shared with you).
27. What are you most looking forward to tomorrow?
If 27 questions to ask kids instead of “how was your day?” seem like too many to remember, many of my mom friends just use two simple questions every day: what was your favorite part of the day and least favorite part of the day? Otherwise known as the good and the bad, the high and the low, or the rose and the thorn. The answers will likely tell you everything you really need to know and hopefully reveal more than who peed their pants.