The #1 Question to Get Kids Talking About School

It works every time…

Every night, I’m hungry like the wolf to hear about my boys’ days, but they always sit at dinner with blank faces and zero stories to tell. Once I read that asking your young child about their busy day at school is like asking an adult, “How were the last 20 years of your life?” Still, we’ve asked some questions over the years that yield pretty good results:

— What did you do at recess?
— What did you play during choice time?
— What book did your teacher read?
— What art did you do today?
— What snack did your class have?
— If you were going to invite someone for a sleepover, who would it be?

But, when you’re really in a pinch, there’s one question that ALWAYS works:

“Who got in trouble today?”

My kids LOVE talking about this. It’s exciting! It’s dramatic! It leads to more stories! Often the answer is themselves for being silly (Anton calls himself a “jokemaster”) or their friends for funny reasons. It also opens the door to talking about empathy and feelings. The question isn’t something you’d want to ask all the time, of course, but when you’re desperate, it delivers.

Update: In the comments, some readers — including teachers — said this question might be misconstrued or even harmful. My eyes were opened and I now agree with them! Please see the thoughtful discourse below, and thank you so much, always, for teaching me every day.

What questions do you ask kids about their days? I’d love to hear…

P.S. Kids in conversation, and how to get kids to talk at dinner.