Any parent of school age children will tell you that their kids won’t tell them anything about their day. When asked ‘What did you do to day?’ Parents often get met with responses like ‘I don’t remember.’ ‘Nothing!’ Or ‘We played a bit.’
These are not the answers we really want. Obviously we know that during a six hour school day the kids do a little more than just play a bit, and we don’t expect a minute by minute break down. But just a little more information so we don’t feel the need to pester the already over worked teacher would be great.
Each child is different so the approach to questioning will need to vary. Some children will offer up the information if you don’t ask but instead allow them time to mentally process their day before they can start talking about it. Other children will clam up at the idea of reliving something that is in the past. I have never had too many issues with Ellie telling me about her day but my questions are different to many other parents. My questions are not about her. Here is how to ask your kids what they have done at school and get an answer.
Was your teacher ok today? Did they have a good day?
Instead of asking how their day was, ask how their teacher was. What did their teacher talk about or do that they liked or disliked? Because it isn’t directly about them this can help the child relax and relay what has happened. You may also learn a lot about the other children in the class.
Who did you play with today?
I find asking who Ellie played with or asking if specific children played with particular toys I find out a lot about the friendship dynamics already forming and who interacts with my own daughter and how.
I bet lunch was yummy today.
You haven’t asked a question but rather made a statement that they can agree with or correct. You can even follow it with ‘What colour was lunch?’ This is also easier to answer than ‘What was for lunch today?’ Apart from the fact that the school menu is online so I don’t need her to tell me, Ellie often doesn’t know what a particular dinner is called. For example she doesn’t know that cottage pie is called that. But she was able to tell me it was yummy, had brown meat, carrots and mash potato. Even if I didn’t have access to the menu I could have made an educated guess with that information.
Was anyone sad today?
I don’t believe in shying away from the fact that life can get us down at times so asking Ellie to highlight any sadness she feels or other kids feel is important. Sometimes Ellie thinks I only want to hear about the good things. She told me the other day that a child was sad because no one was playing with them. This opened up the opportunity to help her understand what she can do in that situation, to be kind and help reduce the sadness of others.
Did anything exciting happen?
Usually not. Of course! But occasionally Ellies face will light up and she will tell me about a painting she got to paint or a story someone read. More information may not be offered up but I know at least one activity that occurred that day.
It is easy to get wound up when our kids won’t tell us about their day. Schools have to follow a certain curriculum and hold a certain standard. As parents we know roughly what they get up to in a day but it is always nice to hear it from the kids themselves. Asking opened ended questions, not ones that can be answered with just a yes or no, should help tease out just enough snippets of information to keep you happy.