35 questions to ask after school—instead of ‘What did you do today?’

We asked the experts and got their best suggestions. 

35 questions to ask after school—instead of ‘What did you do today?’

As a parent, setting my child free into the world has given me all sorts of feelings—I’m worried. I’m relieved. I’m hopeful. I’m excited. And one of the strongest feelings I’ve had since my daughter started school is that I’m curious.

What did she do today? What kind of games did she play? Was she nice to her classmates? Her teachers? Did she offer anyone a helping hand? Did she do any of the (good) things we’ve taught her at home?

Sometimes I wish I could be a fly on the wall at her school to see what she does or how she acts when I’m not around. And see—that’s called being curious, not crazy, silly.?

But, sadly, I can’t do that. And we’re all probably better off. So instead...I ask questions. I can listen and learn. But what exactly should I be asking? What will help foster this desire in my child to share her experiences with me?

I turned to the experts to get their suggestions.

They gave me a few overall conversation tips.

1. Don’t pepper your child with questions right away.

That can be too overwhelming. They may be tired or just not really up for conversation the second they get in the car or off the bus, so just give them some time.

2. Ask them open-ended questions.

You’re more likely to get better information out of them this way—think longer stories and more descriptive explanations.

3. Chat casually with them.

If you seem to be pressuring them with wanting answers to your questions or maybe even asking the wrong types of questions—they might not be receptive to that.

4. Pause if they don’t seem to be engaging.

If when you first start chatting about their day, and they don’t seem to be engaging with you, try again later. Your timing may just be off and it’s always best then to take a break and give it a go at another time.

Next, they gave me specific questions to ask your child instead of the plain old, “How was your day?” or, “What did you do today?” questions.

Psychiatrist and bestselling author Dr. Carole Lieberman suggests:

1. What did you like best about your day today?

2. Was there anything that happened today that made you feel bad?

3. What was the most interesting thing that you learned in school today?

4. Did you make a new friend today? What’s their name? What do you like about them?

5. Is there anything you would like help with?

Eve Del Monte, LCPC of Towson Mental Health suggests:

6. What is/was your favorite thing to do during recess?

7. What’s the silliest thing that happened today?

Parenting Coach Fern Weis suggests:

8. What do you like about yourself?

9. If you could be anyone for a week, who would you be? Why?

10. What are you grateful for today?

11. What is something you would have liked to do differently today?

12. What would you change about school?

13. Who is someone at school you’d like to be friends with?

14. What makes someone a good friend?

Bestselling author and founder of Positive Parenting: Toddlers and Beyond, Rebecca Eanes suggests:

15. Who were you a helper to today?

16. Who was kind to you today?

17. What did you notice today that most people probably didn’t notice?

18. I need a laugh. Tell me something funny that happened today.

Child Development expert and founder of The Thoughtful Parent, Amy Webb suggests:

19. Who did you sit by at lunch?

20. What made you feel happy today?

21. What made you feel sad today?

22. Who did you play with today?

23. What book did you read at story time?

24. Did you learn something you’d never known before?

25. Did something surprise you today?

26. Did you do anything different today?

Bestselling author Carol Tuttle, aka The Child Whisperer, suggests:

27. What did you do in school today that you really enjoyed?

28. Who did you play with at recess?

29. What happened during lunch today?

30. What is one fun thing that happened to you today?

31. Did you have any embarrassing moments?

32. Do you feel comfortable in your classroom?

33. Did your teacher give you any compliments?

Rachel Macy Stafford, New York Times bestselling author of Hands Free Mama suggests:

34. Did you feel worried at any time in school today?

35. Did you feel scared at any time in school today?

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