“How was your day?”: Questions to Engage Your Child
Regardless of whether your child is in preschool or high school, asking the age-old question, “how was your day” can elicit a range of responses from very descriptive to the more blunt, “fine” or “okay.”
Beginning these discussions and asking them about their school life will provide insight into your child’s motivations, their needs, and what matters to them - from their perspective. You may also find that asking about your child’s day encourages them to make stories of their experiences, thus building their communication skills.
Here are some targeted questions you can ask your child to move beyond “how was your day?” and foster open discussion:
- Tell me about a moment today when you felt excited about what you were learning.
- Tell me about a moment in class when you felt confused.
- Think about what you learned in school today - what’s something you’d like to know more about?
- Were there any times today when you felt disrespected by someone? Tell me about those moments.
- Were there times today when you felt that a classmate or friend showed you that they cared about you? What did that look like?
- Were there any moments today that you were proud of yourself?
- Is there anything you’re worried about?
- What did you learn about yourself today?
- What are you looking forward to tomorrow?
- Is there a question you wish I would ask you about your day?
A tip to keep in mind when asking your child these questions is to make it organic and genuine; don’t make them feel like you’re interviewing them or putting them on the spot. Try asking a different question daily, or ask the question right at pick-up time if that makes it more palatable.
Another tip is to make mental notes rather than interrupt what they are saying. If your child expresses something that you would like more information or clarification about, allow them to finish speaking and explain that you would like to understand them a little better - and then ask.
For younger children, you could ask them questions while drawing pictures together or while they’re helping you with tasks in the home. Be prepared for answers to be limited in the beginning of this process, but something that can help is to model what these answers would sound like for you. For example, tell them your answer to some of these questions so they have an idea of what you are expecting.
Lastly, allow them to express feelings however they feel comfortable, this is a practice in trust and to continue to build on it, they may need opportunities to say how they really feel and just have you listen. If you hear something that is concerning, always follow up.
We hope that this will be a start of something special for you and your child and allow you to see their school day through their eyes, while also sharing parts of your day with them.
Tiffany Johnson-Harwick, Dean of Faculty and Inclusion, is a member of Silicon Valley International School’s Student Services Team, alongside Valérie Ribo, Lydia Lin, and Laura Johnson. Each experienced member of the Student Services Team is dedicated to supporting students, working alongside faculty, and facilitating inclusive classrooms.