10 Questions to Ask Your Kids About Their Day (Other Than “How Was Your Day?”)

Photo by Cara Dolan / Stocksy United / 165505
Photo by Cara Dolan / Stocksy United

You pick up your three-year-old after his first day at preschool. You’re eager for details.  Instead the conversation goes something like this:

“What did you do at school today?”

“Played.”

“Did you have fun?”

“Yes.”

“Do you like your teacher?”

“Uh-huh. I’m hungry!”

Trying to squeeze information out of a three-year-old about what he did six hours ago…is a challenge at best.

There’s a reason why she’s staying mum: Three- and four-year-olds are on overdrive most of the time. Their young brains are moving fast, and while they may have wanted to tell you that their teacher did a funny fish face while reading a book, it’s quickly forgotten in a new discovery, like a friend’s even funnier imitation of a laughing hyena or even just seeing a dog outside the car window.

Talking with preschoolers about their day at school is a bit of an art form—but luckily, it’s one you can learn pretty easily. Here’s the key: It’s all about how you word your questions. Avoid questions that can be answered in one word (“Did you have a fun day?”) and choose open-ended questions instead (“What was the most fun thing you did today?”). You’re much more likely to get some details if she has to use more than one or two words to reply, and as a bonus, you’re even helping her cultivate memory skills.

Here are ten open-ended questions you can ask your child about school to spark conversations and (hopefully) keep the dialogue rolling:

  1. What was the most fun thing you did at school today?
  2. Why was ___________ so fun?
  3. Who did you talk to the most?
  4. Where is your favorite place to play in your new classroom?
  5. When were you the happiest today?
  6. How did you feel when you saw your new classroom?
  7. Tell me about what you had for lunch today.
  8. What was the worst thing that happened at school today?
  9. Who would you like to play with tomorrow?
  10. Tell me something that made you laugh today.
No need to stick with our list—start making up your own creative prompts! Switching to open-ended questions may be tricky at first, but it gets easier and has great rewards: You’ll not only hear awesome details about her experiences at school, but you’ll build some serious bonding time with your growing-up-too-fast kiddo!
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