Monday, February 24, 2014

Connecting After School: The Questions You Should Be Asking


"How was your day?"
"Good."
"Did you do anything fun?"
"Ummmm... let me think... I don't remember."

Sound familiar?This has been my life for most of the school year. And quite frankly, it was driving me crazy. Was school so bad that she didn't want to talk about it? No, that wasn't the case. Was she bored and just wasting her time there all day? No, that wasn't it either. You know what the problem was? I was asking the wrong questions. 


How could I get her to talk? I asked everyone. I posted the question on-line. I looked for blog posts that had suggestions. Everyone had different opinions, but there was one key thing they all mentioned and it was the one thing I was doing wrong. 

Ask about the details. My questions were too vague. Of course my 6-year-old wasn't going to give me the answers I was looking for if I didn't help her out a little bit. I know a bit about her day. I know when she has art and when she has music. I know the subjects that are covered each and every day. I know that her teacher reads chapter books to the class and that each student keeps a science journal and a reading journal. I'm sure you know basic ideas about your child's day too. 

The key is asking detailed questions to get them talking about their day.

So what can you ask? Here are some sample questions to get you started.
  • Who did you sit by at lunch?
  • Who did you play with at recess?
  • What did you do in P.E. (art, music, etc.) today?
  • Did anything surprise you today?
  • Tell me something nice that you did for someone today. Did someone do something nice for you today?
  • What did you write about in your reading journal?
  • What book did your teacher read to you today? What do you like about that book?
  • What book did YOU read (or listen to) today? 
  • Did anything make you sad today? Why did that make you sad?

If you know something special is going on at school, make sure and ask questions about it. Recently my daughter participated in Jump Rope for the Heart during school. She loved that I asked about it and very eagerly answered all my questions. We were able to make that connection.

Connecting with your child after school does take some effort. I've learned that if I make the effort, my daughter will meet me half way. I couldn't expect her to automatically tell me everything I needed to know. I learned that detailed questions get better answers. And now, we are making that connection and I love every minute of it.

Do you have any more questions to add to the list? What works for you when making that after school connection?



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13 comments:

  1. Great questions! I learned not to ask much directly after school, because she needs some time to "digest" and unwind. But later, after a snack and a cuddle or a tickle we talk about her day, and usually play the game of favorite parts when we try to beat each other about our favorites. Sometimes it leads to a discussion of not so favorites too :)

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    1. good one...giver her time to unwind. i'll try that and see if it works!

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  2. These are great....I have issues with this too. Kids need a break after school, but these seem like better questions than your typical: How was your day?

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  3. Good questions. I ask the general ones we all do, with the brief answers. Mind you I have teens. If I asked the ones you posed they'd look at me like I was crazy. For younger children I think they'd work. I wait for them to open the door then proceed with caution. What if they don't open the door? Well, usually they do. However, if they didn't and I was worried about them, I'd start asking questions.

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  4. with younger kids could also ask "what was the best thing and worst thing about your day?" or the funniest and weirdest etc. pictures are also good, my little girl hardly says anything in response to questions but really opens up over drawing together!

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  5. I always ask my kindergartner "what is the hardest/easiest thing you did today?"

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  6. Our favorite thing to do is "HIGH, LOW, LESSON LEARNED"... What was their high point(s) of the day, their low and a lesson learned. We also do the Praise Game. One person picks a letter and then we go around and each person thinks of one word that starts with that letter that edifies/describes that one person. The last person picks a new letter and we do it again.

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  7. These are great. I often sit with my little boy (5) while he has a bath and that is our 'talk time', he says I am hassling him if I bombard him with too many questions after school, lol males! I also like to say 'I'll tell you the best thing that happened to me today and you tell me your best'....

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  8. That was great, I was wondering though do you have any tips for connecting with a teen? I have a boy who's 16 and a girl 13. She'll talk about nothing til the cows come home but school? - too boring! And him? Well he just doesn't talk lol!
    Thankyou and keep up the great work.

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  9. Mitch, teens can be challenging, can't they? Maybe if you get them to open up about their friends, they'll give you some insights into their day. Or ask about a favorite class or extra-curricular? Keep talking and keep asking questions. Let them know you genuinely care about their day. When they need you, they'll know you're there for them and will come to you. Thanks!

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  10. Love this! Thanks for sharing! I especially like and use the ones re: Did you say anything nice to anyone today? Did anyone say anything nice to you today?" and - "Did you say anything mean to anyone today? Did anyone say anything mean to you today" I also have started asking "did anyone say anything today that you have questions about" - as she is entering years were peers could be talking about sex and other sensitive topics. As far as daily details go, we have had great success starting at age 3 even playing 2 Truths and a Lie - they have to think pretty detailed to find things that we can't guess are lies - also helps talk about the difference between truths and lies, etc. They love to play!!

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  11. Essentially you want to be asking open ended questions. Tell me.. Describe to me... Explain to me... questions that do not allow for one word replies. We live in a world filled to the brim with closed ended questions and its how we are taught to probe for understanding.

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  12. When school first starts, I'll ask of he classes with any of his friends from last year. I also throw the, Do you like all of your teachers question. That will tell me a little about the classes he might struggle in.

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