Questions to Ask Your Child About School

Mother and daughter talking on couch
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Just about every parent of a school-age child is all too familiar with this routine: You pick up your child from school or reconnect with him at the end of the day and ask the question, "How was school today?" The answer to this question is almost invariably "Fine" or "Good," neither of which open up the line of communication you're hoping for.

The trick to getting more information is to ask your child questions about his day at school that can't be answered with a monosyllable.

To get a conversation going, try one of these more open-ended questions as a way to get your child to talk about school. You can do it at the dinner table while giving your child a snack, or during your child's bedtime routine (bath, book, a hug good night--whatever the routine is in your family).

What Questions Should You Ask Your Child About School?

  1. What was your favorite part about school today?
  2. What happened at school today that you would have liked to have gone differently?
  3. Was your whole class there today? (Follow-up question: With so-and-so absent, did it change the way your class worked together?)
  4. Was the test you were studying for as hard/easy as you thought it would be? What kind of questions were on it?
  5. Who did you hang out with at recess today?
  6. Who sat with you at lunch today?
  7. Tell me one new thing you learned at school today and I'll tell you one thing I learned at work.
  8. Who or what made you laugh today?
  1. If your child has a behavior plan (these questions can be individualized for your child's plan): How much longer until you get to choose from the prize box? What did your chart look like today?
  2. Did anyone get on the teacher's nerves today? How about on your nerves?
  3. What's your favorite thing about your teacher?
  1. What project are you working on in Art/Music class?
  2. What skills are you working on in Physical Education?
  3. What book(s) did you read today? Tell me a little bit about the characters.
  4. What are you learning in science/social studies/math?

Other Tips to Keep in Mind When Connecting After School

  • Give your child time to settle in at home. Your child may need a little time to settle down and be in the quiet of your home before reconnecting and talking. Give your child a little time to decompress first and relax before engaging in conversation.
  • Don't push her to talk. If you sense that she's more interested in the activity she's doing (reading, doing her homework, playing with her toys), then give her a little space. Ask some of the questions that may engage her, and then give her some time and approach her again later on.
  • You don't have to talk right after school. When you connect with your child doesn't really matter as long as you do it as part of your daily routine. These small conversations can make a big difference in the quality of your relationship, and are ways to show your child you love her every day.
  • Watch for any changes in behavior or her attitude toward school and friends. Daily conversations are great, but it's also important to keep an eye on her behavior and mood. Often, young children may not be able to articulate what's bothering them or may be reluctant to talk about a problem. But if something is troubling your child, he is likely to display changes in behavior and emotion that could indicate a problem at school, such as bullying or problems with learning.

    Once you get into the habit of having regular conversations about school, it will naturally become a part of your ordinary routine. You may even want to share information about your day, which is another great way to bond with your child and form a strong relationship.