You pick up your kids from school and you just can’t help it. “How was your day?” you ask. Most common response? “Fine”
Clearly that question isn’t working, so how do you keep the communication open with your preschooler or young child? Recently we spoke to mums about how they have open conversations with their teens, but how do you start having great conversations with little kids? How do you find out about their day in a way that leads to a fun chat rather than a one word response?
One of my kids is a lot chattier than the other when it comes to giving me the day’s lowdown, so here are some tips that have helped us, some of the time. Parenting is, as always, still a work in progress, but these tips gave me a good starting point and hopefully they will do the same for you.
1. Accept that not chatting is OK
First off all it’s worth bearing in mind that when your kiddo steps off the school bus or gets out of school after many hours concentrating, having a detailed analysis of their day may be the last thing they want to do. Most kids have been trying their best to be on their ‘A game’ for 7 or so hours at school so they need to decompress when they get into the safety of being home or around people they know love them. That means it may be better to just hug your child and say hello, then leave them to chill (and save the conversation time until later).
2. Model behaviour yourself
As my kid wasn’t in the mood to talk straight after school, I would sometimes model the behaviour I was hoping for. So on the ride home from school instead of asking him how his day was, I’d offer information about my day. It was a pretty sweet revelation when after doing this for a few weeks, my son (age 4 at the time) got into the car after nursery and asked “So how was your day mama?”
3. Snack first, chat later
Your little one may not have had time to finish lunch if they are a slow eater or maybe they find it hard to concentrate on this when there is so much else to do at school. I learnt that my boy needed a snack first thing after school, and once his energy was restored he was more likely to want to chat. Or not. You know how it goes.
4. Bedtime chats
If you’re looking to have a good conversation with your little ones, catch them at a good time. Most kids love to procrastinate at bedtime and are often revived after a good dinner and evening bath or shower. Right after stories before you tuck them in is when a lot of kids will be happier to prolong staying awake and will generally offer up some insights into their day. If this technique works you could always make bedtime a little earlier to account for this golden time.
5. Ask better questions!
To be fair, if you want better answers sometimes it boils down to asking better questions. “How was your day?” was never going to lead to more than a one-word answer, right? Here are some alternative questions that may squeeze a little more interesting intel from your little darlings .
24 Alternative questions to “How Was Your Day?”
- What did you do that was kind today?
- What was your favourite thing that you did at playtime?
- What story did your teacher read today?
- Did anyone do anything funny in class?
- How did someone fill your bucket today?
- Who had the best snack today? What was it?
- Are you having trouble with anyone at school?
- What did you do that was really fun?
- What was your favourite class?
- Did everyone have a friend at playtime?
- What was the best thing that happened today?
- Did you help anyone today?
- Who did you sit with at lunch/snacktime?
- Did anyone have trouble with following the class rules today?
- What rule did you think was the hardest to follow?
- Did anyone bring anything fun to show and tell?
- Did you learn something new?
- What was your least favourite part of the day?
- Did you learn any new words today?
- What did you do in Mandarin/music/PE class?
- Did you sing any fun songs today? Can you teach me?
- Did you do anything that made you proud?
- If you were class teacher what would you teach the kids?
- What are you looking forward to tomorrow?