Motherhood

How to Ask Your Child About School

How to Ask Your Kids About School

Now that Toby is in kindergarten, I’m so curious about what he does all day long. Did he read a book? Eat a banana for snack? Laugh with friends? Worry his sweet head about anything?

But when I ask, “What did you do today?” he’ll reply with… a blank stare. And I totally get it: Even adults find it hard to digest a long day. It’s tough to know where to start — kind of like when someone asks a vague question at a party, like, “How’ve you been?” and you suddenly blank on everything you’ve done in the past six months.

Thankfully, I remembered a lullaby I used to sing when he was a toddler, where I would describe all the things he had done that day. I remembered how he would often pipe up with sweet additions.

So, one night last week, while putting him to bed, I sang a song about him, and simply supplied the basics of his school day, like this:

Toby and Mommy walked to school in the morning
Toby took his scooter and rode really quickly

Then we got to his class, and Toby sat at his table
He said hi to his friends and they played with some blocks

His teachers read books, and they were really nice
They had a snack, and —

and then I paused and ask Toby what they had for snack (Goldfish and water!), as if it were just needed to fill in the song.

Then I continued…

…it was Goldfish and a glass of water.
Then all the kids got in line and they had recess — 

And at that point, he pointed out that they went to the gym instead of the playground, because it was raining, and they pretended they were frogs and he jumped the highest.

As the song went on, he also jumped in tell me that the cafeteria was a little scary, and the teachers taught them a new song about being a tree with roots.

Thankfully, the magical lullaby worked as well to encourage conversation as it did when he was two, and I was so glad to have remembered it.

How do you get your kids to talk about their days? Any advice?

P.S. How to get your kids to talk at dinner. (The “negative assertion” made me laugh.)

(Photo from Instagram)

  1. Victoria Balenger says...

    I have some years perspective on this now, but I often asked my daughters to tell me one thing that happened at school today. One thing is usually possible to tell, and it often opened the door to other conversation. Sometimes we did keep it to one thing, in which case that was fine, but it meant they were choosing how to share, and it seldom felt forced. And sometimes it was a funny thing, or a funny way of telling a thing, and we’d just roll with that and I could join in on the fun side. They also knew I would probably ask this, and it was an anticipated opening for them to tell what they might not otherwise have found a way to express.

  2. This is a great idea! We normally ask very specific questions to trigger a response. If I ask, “How was your day at school?” The answer is “fine.” “What did you do today?” is met with a “Nothing” response. To combat this, I ask very specific questions. Who did you sit beside on the bus? Did you read any books. What colour coat was your friend wearing at recess? Did anyone else look like they has something different in their lunch? Who was the leader when your class walked to the gym? (My kids are still in Kindergarden). The questions usually prompt them for a little story. Like, “Hunter was the leader going to the gym, but Same got to be the goose first in duck duck goose”. “Lauren had a pink coat, and it got wet when we splashed in the puddles at recess”. I think that trying to choose highlights out of the day can be overwhelming for kids, so they just default to “nothing” as an easy answer. When you focus on a specific time of day, they can choose a bit more of what happened around that time to tell you about.

  3. How adorable! I love your idea. That quiet time just before they fall asleep is the best time of the day. I love getting to sit with my little girl and chat together, just the two of us. It’s a perfect time to hear about her day. I try to ask a lot of specific questions: what did you read today? what was your favorite center today? what colors did you use when you painted today? I get much better answers that way!

  4. Natalie says...

    I have a 2 year old boy and I have been using your lullaby idea for months now. It works like a charm!

  5. KARA! says...

    I’m going to try this! Although depending on my son’s mood, he might tell me to stop singing, lol! I find it is impossible to get information from my son about kindergarten, and I’m dying to know something–anything–that happened during his day to feel connected to him.

  6. Jill says...

    This is the sweetest. I hope to be a mama, too, some day, and when/if it happens, I’ll be taking your advice.

  7. Joanna, this is incredible. Fantastic! Definitely get the conversation started.
    As a busy mom – Tiger mom- previous – other than how’s school? How’s homework? I didn’t know how to converse with my kids. I pushed them in academics but never tried to bother finding our what they think or feel. I didn’t think it was important until my kid school counselor called and said “you son is very smart, but he is not happy”. My perfect world shattered. Sharing my story here: http://povime.blogspot.com/2015/06/from-tiger-mom-to-emotional.html.

    I did recover. In the process of helping my kid regain his happiness, I learnt that conversation – not the “tactical” type – thought provoking type helps me to find out his deeper thoughts and feelings. And then making it a habit to have such conversation has made him share them very openly with me. Changing my parenting goal and constantly having conversation has helped my son greatly, and also me – I am less stressed, and we both a lot happier with extremely close relationship.

    I have taken this experience of mine, and lots of learnings from heartwarming, creative and smart bloggers like you and researches about emotional intelligence, have created an app called Povi Family Connect. Hope to be able to help parents and kids build deeper connection using technology.

  8. Loved this one, Jo! I miss my daughter when I spend time away from her (work, date night with hub, etc.). I love when she tells me what she did when i wasn’t there!

  9. Jamie says...

    Lovely Jo! I ask my daughter on the way to school to use her senses. Once I pick her up I ask, what did you hear today? What did you see? What did you touch? Smell?Taste? For some reason it helps her to elaborate & we have a fantastic conversation. Where as I used to ask “how school was today?” To which she would say fine. End of story.

  10. NSU says...

    HAve you read “How to Talk so Kids will Listen and How to Listen so Kids will Talk”? Lots of good tips in there. One I like is telling them a story about your day so they feel more open about telling a story about theirs.

  11. Bianca says...

    Going to try this tonight! Last night, my son (my junior kindergartener) said, “There’s a lot of rules in kindergarten, but I don’t remember any of them!” ha ha!

  12. Renata says...

    Jo, your blog is definitely a favorite.
    The sweet, low-profile way you relate to your kids has me (a 23-year-old) looking forward to have kids of my own!
    Cheers from Brazil

  13. We always go with extreme silly. Before school I remind my son that I expect to know how many pieces of paper are in his class, how tall his teacher is, what color elephant lives in the closet… etc. etc. Then at dinner we ask him if he got the answers to our questions, which is always met with a “no!” and a giggle/eye roll. Then we say “well what DID you do today?” and he’ll actually open up.

    If that doesn’t work I’ll say “so how was (insert friend’s name here)’s day?” talking about other kids seems to make it easier for them to tell you what happened.

  14. That’s a great idea! I also get the same from my kindergartener. I usually ask her what was the best part of the day, the worst part of the day, what made her laugh, and if anything made her mad, sad, or uncomfortable. They usually illicit a few things at least.

  15. Mary says...

    Gosh, this is the sweetest thing. I’m going to file it away for when my babe is off to school.

  16. Michele says...

    I sang about my almost 3-year old’s day at bath last night. (what tune do you sing your song to? – I can’t sing so it sounded really bad in my made-up tune!) But anyway, he was mesmerized and kept saying “then what happened to me?”.

  17. This is awesome

  18. vroni says...

    hi there, I noticed, if I just ask my son: how was school? he will answer: fine all the time, but not go any deeper. So I tend to ask more specific questions, like: who are you sitting next to these days (they switch seats every couple of weeks to make everyone get to know each other, I really like this idea). Or: was (put friends name) mean to you today, or did you play together?
    Or: how come you eat your snacks? normally you return half of the box (this is interesting to find out he didn’t eat it, but share with others, haha, anyway, box is empty…)

  19. Andrea says...

    This is an awesome method and I can’t wait to try it out with my older son. I just wonder how do you handle it with your two boys who don’t sleep in one room? Do you do it with each one each night? Or take turns? Thanks for sharing anyway.

  20. natalie says...

    I usually get the blank stare as well. In the tub the other night I used Twilight Sparke to ask the questions and Rainbow Dash really opened up.

  21. So cool, Joanna. This is a great concept to remember!

  22. Lauren says...

    Thanks for the great advice! Seamus just started Primary (the Nova Scotian version of kindergarten) and I’m looking for details that he is just not interested in talking about!! I feel like all of a sudden it will be June and I’ll realize how little I know about his life…(maybe a bit dramatic…but still..)

    Anyway can’t wait to try tomorrow night!
    Lauren

  23. olivia says...

    video please!!!

  24. Rachel S. says...

    Joanna, you’re such a good Mom! That’s so creative! I hope as my son grows older I will remember to think outside the box. :)

  25. SLPjeng says...

    It might (fingers crossed!) help to tell some children to “Tell me two things you ate at snack… Tell me one thing you made with your hands at school today… Tell me two friends who you played with during recess…” I’m a speech therapist and am always looking for new ways to get kiddos to use their language skills! Sometimes not asking questions (and saying “tell me…”), limiting the options (1-3 things instead of an infinite number of responses), and/or limiting the field to one subject simplifies the information – making it more concrete than abstract. I LOVEEEE the lullaby strategy! I need to try that in speech therapy!!!

  26. That’s so cute! I have some 11-year-olds that I need to use that on too- haha! They just say, “nothin'” when we ask them what they did all day!

  27. HL says...

    I’ve been reading you since Toby was a baby. Can’t believe how big he is. Will use these tips with my kiddo. Thanks!

  28. Ali says...

    I always ask what was the funniest thing that happened at school that day and if she can’t think of anything then I ask which was her favourite bit. It usually sets her off and I get to hear a story or two. I also ask her who was naughtiest that day! Purely because her responses to this are so funny and her sense of what is really naughty is so innocent and sweet. She is more or less the same age as Toby x

  29. This worked when my now 12 year old was young:
    I would ask about school: did you talk about ____ ( saying Fighting Bears, or dancing frogs, water balloon fights , outrageous things, etc) and she would say ” Of course not, we talked about ______!” And I would say something else outrageous and she would say ” Of course not! …..” And the elaborate about the subject.

    Same thing for friends. I’d name someone outrageous and she would say ‘” No, I sat next to Joseph at lunch, not Mickey Mouse!”

  30. Anita says...

    I hold my son’s favorite stuffed animal, change my voice and let it ask questions. He tells his sheep much more than me ;). Also, I always ask what has been the nicest and the worst thing that happened that day. Works pretty well!

  31. Jake says...

    Our child’s teacher uses KidUpdate to share one or two questions we can ask our son related to his school day via App. It works awesome and conversation about his school day has never been easier (it used to be so challenging).

  32. Natalie says...

    The pic of Toby is so sweet!

  33. Lisl Sukachevin says...

    Do you think this would work with teenagers?! Haha. I have two “talkers” and one non-talker (all boys). I’d love to be a fly on the wall at school!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      my friend was joking that she wanted to put a Go-Pro on her kid’s shirt so she could watch the entire day from his POV. i totally get that!!

  34. Susan M. says...

    I’ll add one more : at least two of the moms at my son’s school use goodies like gummy bears to bribe their preK-4 boys to get intel! Not advised if you’re sugar conscious, but made me laugh that it came to this.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that is so funny!

  35. Okay, I LOVE THIS! I ask my stepdaughter about her day every day and it’s our little game for me to ask her and her to say “stuff” – it points out how vague and difficult a question that is!

    Afterwards, of course we get more specific, but it is a fun little ice breaker to transition into actual easy-to-digest questions.

  36. I don’t really know how this started – and I worry that it is sort of negative leaning – but when asking about their days I often ask “Did anyone get in trouble today?” and it launches some very revealing talks. I learn how my kids feel when other kids do “bad” things and do/do not get caught, what really bothers them in other kids, how their teachers manage the class, etc.

    Hopefully I am not producing incorrigible gossips.

  37. That’s so very clever!! Thanks for sharing that awesome tip! My little one (16 months) is too young for this, but I am so very curious as to what he does all day at day care! I am looking forward to conversations like this with an older Theo. :)

  38. Jen says...

    Just wish that it would work with a 12-year-old boy. ;-) Probably the closest equivalent is driving around in the car with them.

  39. Jessica says...

    Yes! My son just started kindergarten too. I tried this in the bath last night and it worked so well. I let him sing his own lines once we got going and he told me so much more about his day than usual. Thanks for the great tip!

  40. Linsey says...

    I babysit a set of B/G twins 2-3 nights a week and when I am putting them to bed, I will ask them what their favorite and least favorite parts of the day were. I have found that their responses usually snowball into more complete stories of their day.

  41. Megan says...

    I have two boys, one in 1st and one in 2nd grades. My strategy is to ask them very specific questions – what did you do in reading? What did you write about today? What are you talking about in math? What game did you play in gym? Etc. Also when they get their class pictures I grill them about who all the kids are so we have some sense of who they are talking about!!

    • This is a good idea! I could see even leaving the picture up all year so they can point people out and you can refer to it while you talk.

  42. Thank you for this suggestion. My son started Kindergarten last week too. We live in Toronto, and here kids start full day kindergarten the calendar year that they’ll be four. So if you’re born in January, you’ll be 4.5 years old when classes start, but if you’re a December baby, you’re still 3. This is a crazy long day for them all and extremely intimidating. I know my son is having a tough time and he’s really stressed out. He doesn’t talk about it at all but he shows it through angry behaviour. My heart is breaking knowing that he’s feeling this way but not knowing how to help him. And seeing him behave in a way that turns off the other kids shatters me! I’m going to try this lullaby technique tonight to see if I can get a bit more info out of him and help him with the giant adjustment. Many, many thanks!

    • Abby says...

      Hang in there Sara. Hopefully he will adjust to the changes in routine and find his groove soon. I had a similar disheartening situation with my little boy, and a change of schools made all the difference. I don’t know if that is a possibility for you, but it’s worth looking into if he is truly miserable for a long time.

      To get myself through, I just kept repeating “it can only get better.” That seemed to jerk me out of my head when the what-ifs snuck in.

    • D says...

      Hi Sara,

      It was reassuring reading your post. My daughter also just started at a full day kindergarten and although she had been in half-day preschool before this, the length of the day really seems to be a hard transition for her.

      When she gets home, she seems so withdrawn and quiet, which is unlike her. She’s even started this little facial tic, coinciding with starting school. Her pediatrician assured me it isn’t a big deal but it has me Googling like a madwoman!

      Anyway, it was nice to hear that I’m not the only worried mom out there.

      Thanks for posting this, Joanna!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hang in there, sarah!! your little guy sounds like such a sweetheart, and you sound like such a lovely, caring mama. when toby first started preschool, i remember his first 2-3 weeks were definitely the hardest. then he got used to the routine, made friends, had good memories, learned the expectations, etc…. and it was so much better. we’ll be rooting for him!! :)

  43. Steph B says...

    What a great idea! I’m going to try this on my husband when he gets back from Vegas tonight. He never can seem to tell
    me any details. ;)

    • Linsey says...

      This made me LOL

  44. Emily says...

    So sweet! My daughter Juniper’s just started daycare while her vocabulary is also exploding (she’s 21 months), and it’s been funny hearing about her days. If asked what she did during the day, she’ll inevitably say “THE BEACH” because she’s loved going to the beach this summer – we’re working on figuring out ways to find out what she really did at school!

    I was inspired by a post you made a long while ago about talking to toddlers about what the next day will be like at bedtime (something along those lines?). As part of our bedtime routine now, I’ve been talking with Juniper about what a fun day we had, and my favorite parts of it, and what fun things we have to look forward to the next day. It’s been a great way to connect with her at the end of the day!

  45. jaclyn says...

    I don’t have kids of my own but I do remember when I was young, feeling annoyed when my parents would hound me about how my day was. Just as adults get annoyed if the phone rings during dinner or whatever, sometimes kids just want to eat their meal without being interviewed first.
    As an adult, sometimes a day is just a day. Nothing crazy happened, you didn’t get angry at anyone but nothing specific made you particularly happy either. It’s the same for kids. I remember feeling stressed out by the pressure to offer up some groundbreaking info to my parents when in reality, my days usually were really just “Fine.”.
    Even as an adult, it grates me a bit when my mom prods me to tell her how work is going. It brings right back to elementary school all over again.

  46. sandy says...

    My boys are big now, but when they were little, I would get them to tell me about their day by saying something that couldn’t possibly happen and having them correct me. For example, I would say, “I bet you had worm stew for lunch today” and they would say “No way! We had tacos!” Or, I would say “I bet you played with Big Bird at recess” and they would say “No, mommy! I played with Kyle!” They seemed to enjoy thinking that I was silly and slightly confused about the world, as opposed to thinking I was interrogating them. :)

    • Estelle says...

      hahah, this is so great, I’m trying this method out as well as the song technique!

  47. Aurora Aquino says...

    This is awesome! I think we will try this great idea. We have had 3 days of kindergarten and it hs been challenging getting answers. Crossing our fingers that this works for us. Thanks!

  48. I’ve tried a lot of different ways to find out about my daughter’s school day, with varying results. (I get a lot of “I don’t remember.”) I’ve learned to leave extra time and space for her to filter through her day and tell me the important things when she’s ready. that moment usually comes when she’s in bed, after we’ve read a story. Maybe it’s a ploy to stay up later, but suddenly she opens up and I find out the day’s big moments from her perspective.

    • Donna says...

      That comment brought back memories for me! My son (who’s now 34!) used to wait until after his bedtime story was read to him, and then hit me with all the questions and concerns he had about life! I used to think it was a ploy to get me to stay with him longer, but over time, I realized that this was the time he felt the most loved and comforted, so of course he’d be more open then. Trying to get any information out of him during the evening was impossible- dinner, homework, TV, baths all got in the way. But at bedtime, he had my undivided attention and that’s when he’d unload. As stressed as I was then, wanting to leave his room and finish things I just had to do, I decided to take the time he needed with me. I think it helped both of us get closer, as we talk frequently now that he’s grown and gone!

  49. jill c says...

    It’ s so funny to see this post this morning b/c i was just on the phone with my friend on the way to work talking about this exact thing!!!

    I love your idea Joanna – and such great comments from so many people! i will be trying this at home especially with my 4 year old son. We tend to make up songs at the end of the night but i never thought about inserting what was going on during the day – brilliant!

    With my daughter, who is now in kindergarten, the best time to get her to talk is when it’s just the two of us doing something together calm like coloring, eating a treat at a bakery etc… Yesterday we were at the park and I was pushing her on the swing (there were no other kids around as it was a little later in the day) and she told me SO much in that time it was amazing! it was like she was relaxed but distracted at the same time (she’s learning to swing on her own better) and she just kept talking and talking – it was awesome.

  50. Sadie says...

    I have used your “story about my day” with my son so many times. He loves it, and it always calms him down at night. Now that he’s 2 (and he is a chatty one), he tells me every day, “Mama, I missed you at school!” and then I ask him what he did when he missed me. Recently he told me, “Mama, we do hitting at school!” I know they don’t– his teachers are wizards of toddler-violence-prevention– but he insisted. I asked who did the hitting, and he said thoughtfully, “I hit Walter. And Walter hit me! And it was fun.” Had to laugh. Boys!

  51. Aww, this is an adorable idea! I learned long ago (my daughter is now 15 & in high school) asking about a kid’s school day can be tricky. I never got anything from “How was your day?”, except “Fine.” So, I always try to ask questions that force them to explain something. Like, “Who did you sit with at lunch today?” or “What did your English teacher say she did this weekend?”. Things like that always get them to open up a little more :)

  52. More specific questions always seem to work well, or ones where they had to categorize something. “What was your favorite/hardest thing about today?” “What did (your teacher) show you today?” “How was (friend of the kid)’s weekend?” “What book did you read today?” Teachers will love you for talking about reading with your student too :)

  53. Karen T. says...

    We always open up the dinner discussion with a round of Rose and Thorn/Good and Bad. Each person tells something good and something not so good that happened during the day. We’ve been doing this since my boys were really little and my younger son LOVED it so much that it actually helped spur my oldest son to speak more openly about his day (so competitive!) They are 9 and 13 now and we still do this every day–sometimes even if it’s in the car on the way to soccer practice!

    • We do this same thing, or we go around the table telling about something we did that day that nobody else knows about. I started this routine many years ago, after a preschool teacher told me that the best way to encourage your child to talk about their day is to make it a habit of telling them about yours.

  54. Aaaahhhh I LOVE this, thank you for the idea, am excited to try it out when he gets home in 3 hours and 42 mins (I miss him so much!!) xx

  55. When my daughter started kindergarten, I would ask her about her day because I was so anxious to learn about it. And she would just shrug and say “It was good. Now may I watch some TV please?” And that was that. She started school very early, just a month after she turned 3; so it wasn’t fair for me to expect much of talking. But I knew she loved school because she’s wake up every morning without any fuss, looking forward to school.

    It’s been more than a year since and now as she’s in a higher grade, I’ve realised that the best time to get her open up about her day is at night. With the room dark and free of distractions (screaming toddler brother, TV, work calls, nanny), she suddenly remembers the stuff they did in school.

    Of course things that warrant extreme excitement (birthdays, picnics, excursions) are announced as soon as she gets off the school bus, but for the normal days, I have to wait till it’s time for bed.

  56. Katherine says...

    I ask the same thing every day: what was the best thing today? I don’t get to hear everything that happens, but I get a thoughtful answer every day, as opposed to “nothing”or”I don’t know”. My husband read about this one and tried it last week: what can you teach me that you learned today? It’s a brilliant way to ask and my 6yo taught us Human Subtraction which sounded very sinister but was thankfully very benign.

  57. I’m sure all parents can relate to this post. :) I have a 3rd grader and a preschooler, and I learned quickly to stop asking such open ended questions at the end of their days. Instead, I ask specific questions (and limit them to just a couple unless they seem eager to keep chatting), such as, “What story did your teacher read to you today?” or I try to predict what they did, ate for lunch, played at recess, etc., and they have fun correcting me.

  58. deb k says...

    Here’s what happens if I ask my 3 year old who his favorite teacher at school is: “Teacher nobody!”

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      awww, haha, kids are so funny.

  59. I’ve had such a hard time getting any information out of my three-year-old, Vera. So I tried this at bath time tonight and it actually worked! I found out that she played in a pretend castle today on the playground and also in an imaginary airplane. Thanks for posting!!! Made my day. Now my singing skills and keeping the tune while thinking through our day will certainly be a learning curve but I’m glad I tried it.

  60. PB in PDX says...

    You are all brilliant! From a teacher’s perspective, I think you are all doing an amazing thing, getting your kids talking. (Did you know speaking and listening is a standard now?) So yes, talk about your day, get them talking, give them sentence starters and both simple answer and open-ended questions. And know that, as parents, you totally rock!

    I’m tempted to give my students’ families a link to this page… :)

  61. Christine says...

    I’m a first grade teacher and every Friday I send out an “Ask Your Child” email. It’s a bunch of bullet point questions–some are specific and some are non-specific. Parents love it! At our school, we also have a “Communications Book” where at the end of the day, as a class we come up with one sentence about one thing we did that day. I write it on the board and each child copies it into their own book. They take it home and read it with their parents so parents can have a convo about it with their child. So far, so good!

  62. Sarah says...

    Love this idea! We also used to sing a song about his day called “the good morning song”. Never thought to use it for pulling out information about his day away from me. Going to use this tomorrow. Thanks, Joanna!

  63. Ivana says...

    My son started 2nd grade and for years now we talk about our days when I tuck him in. I will start off and tell him about work and then he opens up and talks about his day. It’s a habit now and if I happen to ask about school at any other time he reminds me to save the conversation for the end of the day.

  64. Such a sweet little story – love it! We always the blank stare from our little ones as well, will try this out along with some more open-ended questions :-) Cheers

  65. erin says...

    My son just started SK and we were told last year that the best way to find out what your kid did was to ask what their friends did that day. So every night at dinner when we can’t get anything out of him, we go right to “What did XYZ do at school today” and the chatting never stops. If he knows what his friend did, you know he was doing it to!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Such a great idea!!

  66. love this post….I could use some help in this department. I also love the advice to start telling my son about my own day. I never thought of it before, but why would he understand the concept of telling me about his day, if I’ve never modeled it for him before? I’m having a BFO (blinding flash of the obvious) moment.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      BFO = love that :)

  67. Amelia says...

    Cool! I have the same question as someone above – is there a tune that goes with the song?

  68. My little guy is in preschool, and I find if I ask really specific questions or ask things I know are wrong (did you have candy bars at snacktime??) I’ll get answers. I’ll ask things like – did you play with James or Zoe? Did Mrs. Mandel help you with your art project? Did you sing wheels on the bus or a new song? etc… Usually one of those will open the door to a long stream of comments about his day :)

  69. I usually get info in tiny bits and pieces after my almost-4-year-old’s morning at preschool. I always start with what what your favorite part of the morning, if he played outside (while we was last the playground), if I get nothing I tell him what I did. He gets bored of that pretty quickly.

  70. Charlotte K says...

    This is the sweetest idea.

    I couldn’t wait to get home and talk about school! But I come from a family of chatterboxes!

  71. Susan M. says...

    Our school gives a weekly schedule, so that helps me to figure out questions:)

  72. Deb says...

    Two truths and a lie is a staple at dinnertime in our house. Grown ups also have to play (they want to know about your day, too!). The kids love that they’re “allowed” to tell a lie ;)

  73. Susan M. says...

    My son just started kindergarten. Already last year with pre-k 4 I’ve been using often with success more specific what-who-where-how kinds of questions about specific things to analyze the day, for as you say, it’s a lot to digest a big long kindergarten day. e.g. who did the silliest thing today? or what happened at the library? (if I know it was library day). His favorite special is P.E., so on the two P.E. days I’m sure to ask about that. I know some of the kids’ names, so I ask about them sometimes. This sounds counterintuitive, but the school’s principal suggested to me last year to talk more about myself and what I do, what is happening in my day. It helps open awareness of the adult world, moves away from self-centeredness, and I guess models how to talk about one’s day. Funnily enough, often when I do that, he kind of copies me by saying he did something like that too (but bigger and with a car or truck or with super powers, etc) or that he had just had a dream about that or a long time ago that he did that too.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, that is so funny that you said that about your son, because i just told toby a story about my day as i was putting him to bed (i ran into friends on the street, etc.) and he listened carefully and then was like, “mama, guess what?!” and then told me the EXACT same (made-up) story of him running into those friends on the street one time. it was hilarious. at least he was listening!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      “the school’s principal suggested to me last year to talk more about myself and what I do, what is happening in my day. It helps open awareness of the adult world, moves away from self-centeredness, and I guess models how to talk about one’s day.” = i also love that advice.

  74. Jeanne says...

    What did you learn today that you did not know yesterday?

  75. Emmanuella says...

    This is brilliant! Now if only someone would sing me a lullably at parties where all I had to do was fill in the blanks for how I’ve been!

  76. Kate says...

    You are a great mom, Joanna! What a good idea!

  77. Trish O says...

    Very sweet to do with the little ones. My 11 year old told me on the first day of schools this year all the things they do in a normal day. He then said, “I will now refer to that as The Usual. When you ask me what I did and I say The Usual, you know what I did.” Every day I get “The Usual.”

    • Smart kid!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, how funny and smart! hahaha love that :)

    • Zywie says...

      LOL! Smart kid. (Aggravating for the parents I’m sure😀)

  78. Amy says...

    My husband and I have two daughters – E is 7 & J is 13. Each night at dinner we talk about our highs and lows of the day. This almost always gets the conversation started and really helps us to hear about different aspects of our days (as opposed to the standard “how was your day….”)

  79. Landon says...

    What a great idea! Does your song go to any tune, or do you just make something up as you go?

    I do 2 truths and a lie with my kids to get them to talk about their day. They love it because the lie is always something outrageous and silly.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s so cute. and for the tune, it’s hard to describe, it’s the tune my mom used when she sang similar songs when we were growing up. it’s sort of like twinkle twinkle. you could make up any old tune and it would work :)

  80. Kristen Z says...

    Thanks so much for this wonderful idea. My son was all chatter about his days last year, but I’m having a tough time getting any info from him this school year. Music always helps!

  81. I love asking a kid to “tell me about X” instead of simpler yes/no questions. For example, instead of asking “Did you have a good day today?” Or even “what did you do today,” it seems to really get them talking to phrase it as, “Tell me about the playground” or “Tell me about what you and [name of their friend] did at recess.” It seems more open-ended and they are likely to say a bit more!

  82. Rebecca says...

    I ask them: What was something that made you _____ (laugh, happy, frustrated, confused) today? Works every time, particularly when you kick it off with the laughter one.

  83. Am I the only one that used to make things up about my day? lol

    I just remember feeling like I had to have something interesting to say when mom asked…and school gets pretty routine after a while. So, being imaginative anyway, I would happily supply her with fanciful tales and exaggerations about what happened in the day.

    I look back embarrassed like “surely she knew better than to think someone brought their pet pig to class….” but I guess it’s cute when you’re young?

    promise I’m not a big fat liar in the present ;)

    http://oprahismyreligion.wordpress.com

  84. Oh, this was delicious. I used to sing to my girls, making up words to the melody of Hushaby. Now I ask try to ask them about their days—they are 7, 9, and two days shy of 11. They are most ready to talk when it involves interrupting a sister (ha!)

    My 11 year old wants to tell me alone, my 9 year old wants to record videos and show me that way, my 7 year old loves gushing about what she’s learned. My trick is being available when they’re ready to spill it.

    I am going to try your song!

  85. Daniela says...

    Aww, that’s so sweet!!

  86. Sarah says...

    Thank you for this! My 4 year old started preschool and every day when I ask him what he did he says “nothing”…did you make any friends? “No”. Obviously this is not true but it’s so hard getting anything out of him. I would LOVE to see him in class like a fly on the wall.

  87. Clare says...

    I love this post! As a a first grade teacher I often ask my small friends, “What did you do last night/ this weekend?” in the morning…and get the same stares! I’ve found kids do best when given context: the day is very long for them. During our closing circle, I like to ask them “What was your favorite story we read?” “Did you do anything special with your friends?” or “What was your favorite thing(s) you/we did today?” Also, I love that you guys have a song to talk about this. :)

  88. Once I read that you would know about their day if you tell them first about yours. I use to do this and it really works. Also, I like to ask my son about the most exciting things that happened that day to him. I tell those that happened to me first -including a hint of adventure :) -and he quickly starts to talk. It’s fun and, somehow in the middle of the fantasy, I get to know about his day.

  89. Lana says...

    My daughter started kindergarten this year, too, and she’s in a two-way immersion program. 80% of her lessons are taught in Spanish!! So most of the time when I pick her up her brain is fried. So I ask: did anyone get caught picking their nose today? It makes her laugh and most of the time the answer is no. :) I’m dying to know what she learned and what he did, but if I back off a bit she randomly offers up information. Like today she said, “I really like sissy’s rojo sweater!” I acted like it was nbd but inside I jumped for joy.

  90. Mallory says...

    Literal LOL @ Chelsey!

    This is the sweetest. Must remember this when my little one is old enough to chatter more coherently :)

  91. Liz says...

    “Who got in trouble today?”

  92. Sophie says...

    I invented for my son the fantasy of a little mouse watching his class from outside, through the window. During the first weeks of kindergarten, that was the only way to get some details about the class: what did the little mouse see today? She looked at your friend X, what could she see through the window?
    Also I read that asking the usual suspect questions (food, activities, toys) usually doesn’t get answers while asking crazy things would immediately raise the child interest. I got really entertained in asking things like: Have you seen an alien today in your group? Did your teacher put chocolate on her noose? Did your friend eat one of your slippers? And systematically I had an answer like : WHAT ? NOOOOOOO !!! But this and this happened …
    It’s so frustrating not to know ;-)

  93. Do you know that since your lullaby post, I have used it almost every night with my (now 3.5 year old) daughter, Penny? She and I both love it, and I love this, too!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that is so sweet, i’m so happy to hear that :) and i love the name penny!

  94. Such a nice and sweet post! He is the CUTEST too:) Love the original post idea as well; good job!!x
    AllysDays.blogspot.com

  95. Kathrine C. says...

    we played a game called “2 things true and 1 thing not true” at dinner.
    Each person tells 2 true things about their day and 1 untrue thing and then everyone tries to guess what the untrue event is. It’s lots of fun.
    When my youngest was about 5, her typical untrue event was “I went grocery shopping and bought some wine too.”

    My kids are now 15, 13 & 11 and we still have fun doing this at dinner.

  96. Sara Wilson says...

    What a sweet idea! We will try this for sure. I always try to make something silly up to get my 4 year old little guy going ” was there a giraffe on the playground? Did you eat worms at snack?”. He thinks it is hilarious and says something like “no silly mama, we had apples and cheeeese!!” :)

  97. Kali says...

    Your timing is always impeccable.

  98. Chelsey says...

    This is also a useful tool to get your husband to talk about his workday.

    :)

    • Laura says...

      Lol!

    • Catrin says...

      I tried it with my cat, but she still wasn’t very forthcoming.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahaha

  99. Rachel Anderson says...

    “Did anyone cry today?”

    Always got lots of information!

    • Rosemary says...

      Oh hahaha I used to use that one on my son when he was little! When he was in grade school he also loved “Who got in trouble today?” Ah, good memories!

  100. Maria says...

    My mom used to always leave us in the morning by saying, “learn something so you can teach me.” At the end of the day when she picked us up or sometimes over dinner, she’d ask, “teach me one thing you learned today.” It wasn’t always something groundbreaking, but it definitely opened the conversation to go into other areas. Anytime I’m around my friends’ children I now ask the same thing. It’s so fun to see little people get excited to teach me something new.

    • Trish O says...

      Love this idea. I wonder if it would work with middle school kids.

    • I love that Maria! Thank you for sharing this!! Hopefully, I’ll do that with my kids when I have them :)