What did you do at school today?
All parents have had these conversations. Apparently students all over the world are doing nothing at school, but not to worry, it is fine. It is the challenge of asking questions that specific, but are still open-ended so to avoid one word answers. We all easily fall into the trap, with our kids, our co-workers and our friends of asking “how are you doing?” and knowing the only really acceptable answer is “fine”.
In our home we are continually trying to make a conscious effort for some different conversation starters.
There are a couple of lists that I have found and used that I think are useful (I don’t love all the questions – but they get your mind working about different ways to have the after school, or dinner conversation). Maxabella Loves shared these 10 kid conversation starters on her blog:
1. What was the funniest thing you heard all day?
2. What was your favourite thing that happened today?
3. Did your teacher get cross today? What happened?
4. What subject was the most interesting today?
5. Was anyone away today? Did that make the day different?
6. What was something new you read today?
7. What happened today that you wish hadn’t happened?
8. What did you enjoy most for lunch today?
9. What are you learning about in science?
10. Did anyone do something nice for you today? Did you do something nice back?
Last fall I also saw this list that Liz Evans posted on Huffington Post:
- What was the best thing that happened at school today? (What was the worst thing that happened at school today?)
- Tell me something that made you laugh today.
- If you could choose, who would you like to sit by in class? (Who would you NOT want to sit by in class? Why?)
- Where is the coolest place at the school?
- Tell me a weird word that you heard today. (Or something weird that someone said.)
- If I called your teacher tonight, what would she tell me about you?
- How did you help somebody today?
- How did somebody help you today?
- Tell me one thing that you learned today.
- When were you the happiest today?
- When were you bored today?
- If an alien spaceship came to your class and beamed someone up, who would you want them to take?
- Who would you like to play with at recess that you’ve never played with before?
- Tell me something good that happened today.
- What word did your teacher say most today?
- What do you think you should do/learn more of at school?
- What do you think you should do/learn less of at school?
- Who in your class do you think you could be nicer to?
- Where do you play the most at recess?
- Who is the funniest person in your class? Why is he/she so funny?
- What was your favorite part of lunch?
- If you got to be the teacher tomorrow, what would you do?
- Is there anyone in your class who needs a time-out?
- f you could switch seats with anyone in the class, who would you trade with? Why?
- Tell me about three different times you used your pencil today at school.
In our house right now there are two questions that we talk about most often around the dinner table, or the breakfast table, or the car driving to practice, or whenever we have those moments to get caught up with each others’ lives (we borrowed them from a radio talk show):
Tell me something I don’t know?
What have we learned today?
We like both of these questions as we all answer them – kids and adults – and they are great with extended family or friends over.
It is always a challenge to try to stay engaged with our kids. As we often say about teaching, asking the right questions is so important, and actually very difficult. It is an ongoing struggle to not live in a world of “fine”, “good” and “nothing.”