Often, when parents ask about their child’s day at school, they don’t get a big response. It might be just a shrug, or a quick “fine.”
Open-ended questions can help make kids think about what’s going on. And they can let you get more than a one-word answer.
Here are seven simple questions you can ask to learn more about your child’s day at school. If your child has trouble picking one thing — the best, the least — you can ask it a different way: “What was a good part of your day today?”
1. “What made you laugh today?”
Asking kids to think about a happy topic can make them more eager to share, and not just shoot off an answer.
2. “Which subject was your favorite today?”
This question can give you an idea of strengths and interests you might not know about. You can follow up with “Which was your least favorite?”
3. “What was the best part of your day?”
Starting with the positive may make it easier for your child to talk about negative things that happened, too.
4. “Who did you sit with at lunch today?”
This is a gentle way to find out whether your child is making friends and feels like part of the group.
5. “What was the most interesting thing you learned today?”
If the answer is often “nothing,” it could mean your child isn’t tuned in or doesn’t fully understand what’s being taught. Or, it could be that your child just doesn’t like to think back over the day.
6. “What did you like most about school today?”
Your child can go anywhere with this question, and you may learn new things about what your child is thinking and doing.
7. “What was the hardest thing you did today?”
This question lets your child talk about things that were challenging in a good way and also things that were a struggle.
Want to make a habit of asking these questions at home? Download this simple activity.
Continuing to probe when you’re not getting much in return can feel uncomfortable. But there are benefits to asking about school on a regular basis. Asking questions lets you:
- Get insight into a part of your child’s life that you don’t normally see. You’ll have a better sense of what your child is experiencing — positive and negative.
- Spot problems your child might be having with learning or in social situations.
- Show that you’re interested in your child’s thoughts and feelings, and that you’re always available to talk.
Get more tips on how to get your child to talk about school.
About the author
About the author
Gail Belsky is executive editor at Understood. She has written and edited for major media outlets, specializing in parenting, health, and career content.
Andrew Kahn, PsyD is a licensed psychologist who focuses on ADHD, learning differences, anxiety, autism spectrum disorder, behavior challenges, executive function, and emotional regulation.