Your kids spend hours apart from you each day during the school year, and naturally, you want to know how they’re doing in the classroom and in their interactions with their peers. More than that, you need to know, because those experiences are shaping your kids emotionally, spiritually, relationally and academically.

Yet coaxing kids to talk about their day can be frustrating. Asking How was your day? often solicits the same old response: It was fine!

Maybe you’ve been left wondering, How hard can it be to give me a little more than that?

In reality though, getting younger kids, in particular, to talk about their day can be asking quite a lot. You’re asking them to think back about all that happened in the past hours, then sift everything down to one or two highlights, all at a time when they’re more interested in the future – the things they’ve been looking forward to after school.

And admittedly, it’s harder to draw boys out than girls, but it’s something to keep working at. It’s healthy for boys to learn to talk about their thoughts, feelings, hopes and disappointments.

To get better answers from your kids, first make sure you’re asking good questions – questions that help kids remember specific events during their day.

There’s a list here to help you get started, but you can build your own list of after-school questions that seem to work  well for your kids – questions that help your kids open up and talk. You can keep your list handy on your phone, or post it on the fridge, and just choose one or two questions to ask each day.

If you can't imagine asking these questions in a way that would feel natural, consider creating an "after-school talk" jar full of questions on strips of paper that your kids can draw out and answer, one each day. Establishing that fun little tradition now will serve you well long into the future!

General questions

  • What was the most fun thing that you did today? Was anything really not fun?
  • What was the best thing that happened today?
  • What was the most difficult thing you had to do today?
  • How were you brave today?
  • Is there anything you wish had gone differently today?
  • Was there a time when you felt extra special today?

Social interactions

  • Did everyone behave on the school bus?
  • Who did you sit with on the bus?
  • Who did you play with at recess and lunch?
  • Did you eat all your lunch today, or did you trade with someone? What did you trade?
  • Did anyone get into trouble today?
  • Did you do anything nice for someone today? Did anyone do something nice for you?
  • Was there anything that made you sad/mad/frustrated today? Anything that seemed unfair?
  • Do you think your teacher had a good day or a rough day today?
  • Who in your class(es) needs our prayers right now?

Points of confusion – academic, social or moral

  • Did you hear or read anything today that confused you?
  • Did you need help with anything today?
  • Was there any moment today where you weren’t sure what to do or how to answer someone?
  • Did your teacher teach anything new today that you didn’t quite understand?
  • How are you feeling about what you’ve been learning. Are there any concepts that you don’t quite understand?

General academics

  • Did you use the Internet today? What were you researching? What did you learn?
  • Did you learn anything today that surprised you?
  • Do you learn anything today that really fired up your imagination?
  • Did you get any new assignments today? Do you feel like you understand what you need to do? Have you decided on a way to approach your assignment that would be really interesting for you?

Preparing ahead

  • Is there anyone who could use some kindness right now? What could you do for them?
  • Do you have to bring anything special to school tomorrow?
  • Do you have forms I need to fill in?
  • What homework do you have? Do you need my help with it?
  • Do you have everything you need to do your homework?
  • Is there anything you need to hand in by the end of this week?
  • Do you feel you have everything you need right now for school?

Related resources

© 2021 Focus on the Family (Canada) Association. All rights reserved.

If you liked this article and would like to go deeper, we have some helpful resources below.

Our recommended resources

Join our newsletter

Advice for every stage of life delivered straight to your inbox