A Simple Way to Encourage Your Child to Answer the Question, “What Did You Do In School Today?”

Up until the current school year, my Oldest son attended the school where I was an Ed Director.  Because I spoke with his teachers throughout the day for various reasons, attended curriculum meetings with them, walked past the classroom multiple times a day and, in addition, received informative journals twice a week, I was never really faced with the need to ask the ever vague, “What did you do in school today?”

This year, things have changed.  I am no longer in the know.

It’s been an adjustment for me to be “just a parent” at my son’s school and one of the things that has challenged me is trying to get an understanding of what happens during his mornings with friends and teachers.  As many parents have said before me, ‘it was like pulling teeth’ to get him to l share a single detail about his day.  I even tried some of the tricks I’d often shared with parents of kids in my classes, such as asking more pointed questions like, “Who did you play with today?” or “What did you do after snack?” But, I was still missing something and not really getting many details.

One day, a light bulb went off and I made a proposal to my son.  I told him that I would share one thing from my morning, if he would then tell me about one thing that happened in school.  His eyes lit up and he accepted.

I went first and told him “Your brother and I went to the post office.  We had to wait in line for a long time.  We mailed two packages.”  Then it was his turn.  He followed up with, “We went to the gazebo.  We ran around and played.”  And then, my favorite part of the experiment, he asked, “What else did you do?”  He was clearly intrigued and we ended up going back and forth three times.

The were two very important pieces in this exchange.  First, I was modeling him for him how to extend a thought and share details while showing him that more information builds an interesting conversation.  And, second, I learned that he was just as interested in the mysterious life his brother and I lead while he is in school as I was about the happenings of his school life.

Over time, his responses have become more detailed and less generic.  For example, instead of ‘we ran around and played’ I hear details such as, “we used the big logs to make a campfire” or “we walked around the lake and saw a bird’s nest in the tree.”  {He goes to a nature and science based preschool.}

This quickly became routine.  We either share in the car on the way home, at the dinner table or while tucking him in at night. And now, he usually starts the conversation on his own with, “Tell me something you did today while I was at school.”  We still have days where he doesn’t necessarily feel like sharing too much or he struggles for details but more often than not, we have a respectful, detailed, back and forth conversation.

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