After school conversation starters

dad and kid

My kids went back to school today. YAAAAYYYY… I think.

Hmmm. I thought I would be celebrating this day, especially after the long and somewhat torturous school holidays. But… I kind of miss them. Parenting is a strange and contrary beast.

School is a blessing because we parents get some time off our kids during the day so we can concentrate on other matters such as work (both in and out of the home), study or the ability to shower in peace. However, it can also feel weird to temporarily surrender to the school our parental control for those hours. This is especially difficult if this is your child’s first year of school. For me personally, I am always curious about those hours of the day where I don’t see my kids at all and often have absolutely no idea what they’re getting up to.

After school conversations - birds

I’m finally figuring out that the key to getting kids to divulge some precious info about their day (beyond a mumbled “yep” or “dunno”) is to ask open-ended, non-confrontational and occasionally fun questions. This epiphany only took me about 6 years to reach (I’m a quick learner).

The following is a list of the types of questions you can ask your child after school, which of course you can tailor to your child’s personality and age. The important thing to remember when asking questions is to make them open-ended (something that can’t be answered with just a Yes or No) and as positive as possible.

  1. What happened today that made you laugh?

  2. If you had to choose one of your classmates to be your teacher for the day, who would it be and why?

  3. If your teacher was the same age as you, would you be friends with him/her? Why/why not?

  4. If you could get rid of one school rule for the day, which one would it be and why?

  5. What games did you play at lunch?

  6. Name all the healthy things in your lunch box today (Note: This question is best left for days when you have actually provided a healthy lunch) 

  7. When were you bored today?

  8. Which of your teachers would survive a zombie apocalypse?

  9. How did you help somebody today?

  10. How did somebody help you today?

  11. Tell me one thing that you learned today (Tip: It could also be fun if you get them to turn it into a quiz and provide multiple choice answers that you have to guess).

  12. What were most kids doing at recess today?

Anyway, I’m about to pick up my monsters and I can’t wait to fire at them a barrage of questions. Just kidding, I’ll just pick a few. Because I am so helpful, I will test each question and rate them on whether they elicit the following:

  • An answer: 1 point
  • A multiple word answer: 5 points
  • A multiple word answer that goes on so long that you wish they would just stop talking: 10 points
  • A smile: 25 points
  • A laugh: 50 points
  • A return question about your day: 200,000 points
  • A return question about your day that is done in the style approved above (e.g. when were you bored today, which of your managers would survive a zombie apocalypse): 200,000 + 1 points
  • Disdain: Minus 1 point
  • Tears (yours or theirs): Minus 3 points

Results coming shortly.

After school conversations - Feedback

Why don’t you try out these questions on your little ones, rate the successes/failures of each and let us know the results!