Five Questions to Ask Your Child After School

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The new school year is upon us! Your little ones are headed back into the classroom and will soon be coming home at the end of a long day to tell you they did nothing all day.

I’m always surprised at how little parents know about their child’s school day. The entire day is packed and so much happens from 8-3, yet kids typically don’t share any of the details. As a parent, it can be difficult to ask the right questions when you yourself are not sure what goes on in their classroom each day.

As a teacher who has spent quite a bit of time as part of those 8-3 days, the following are five questions I’d ask to encourage meaningful after-school conversations.

1. Who Did You Play With at Recess Today?

Let’s warm up. Kids love recess so this is a good way to get them talking about their day. Use this question to start the conversation about the social aspects of school. School is more than just academics. It’s important for parents to regularly check-in on relationships.

Follow Up Questions

What did you play?

What was the most fun part?

Did anything happen to make you feel sad?

2. Was Math Easy or Challenging Today?

Every child has a math lesson every day. You may not know exactly what was taught, but you can be sure that it was. Most kids won’t voluntarily say math was hard today. This question should lead to discussion about what they did in math today and how they felt about it. It’s important to always gauge feelings.

Follow Up Questions

What math activity or practice did you do?

Why was it easy/challenging for you?

What do you like and dislike about [current math topic]?

Do you want to quiz me?

3. What Questions Did You Ask or Answer Today?

Class participation. For some it’s a struggle. For others, they can’t raise their hands enough. This question will give you more insight into what was learned or what activities were done and will also again allow you to gauge feelings, confidence and comfort.

Follow Up Questions

Did you have questions you wanted to ask but didn’t? Why?

Who answers the most questions? Does he/she every get them wrong?

When do you feel most comfortable asking or answering questions?

4. What Was Your Favorite Part of Reading Today?

Just like math, every child has a reading block each day. They have different names (Daily 5, Reader’s Workshop), so try to be specific. This is usually the longest block of the day and typically includes a reading lesson, independent reading, small group reading with the teacher (guided reading), and some writing. Asking your child his favorite parts allows him to hone in on something he did during reading without having to recap the entire thing for you (which might cause him to just give a simple ‘nothing’).

Follow Up Questions

What was your favorite [book, chapter, part] you read today?

Did you do anything during reading today that you didn’t enjoy? Why?

5. What Are You Most Excited About For Tomorrow/Is There Anything You Are Nervous About For School Tomorrow?

Asking your child about the next day is a great way to get some extra information about the current day, and it helps your child to mentally prepare for the next school day, while receiving encouragement and support from you. You can have fun talking about an exciting event for the next day, or provide some much needed reassurance.

Follow Up Question

Is there anything we can do to make you feel more prepared for tomorrow?

I know this list can make it seem like a rapid fire round of 20 questions. It is not intended to be used like that. These are prompts and suggestions to keep the conversation flowing. The goal is encourage your child to talk, by asking open-ended questions and follow up questions. Try your best to continue the conversation by asking more questions or providing your own experiences or connections. 

Leave a comment, or head to my instagram to let me know what questions you like to ask your kids at the end of the school day!

Questions to Ask Your Child After School

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An education blog created by Kim. A former elementary school teacher turned stay-at-home mom. Useful tips and tricks from a teacher to parents.

3 thoughts on “Five Questions to Ask Your Child After School

  1. Your suggestions are great, Kim. So often the answer children give is “nothing”. We must remember that not every day will be outstanding, even if as teachers we like to think it is. Just as some work days are unremarkable, so are some school days. Just as adults need time to wind down and reflect, so do children. Maybe children also need a little more time to reflect on and work through their day’s activities. “Nothing” might mean “Nothing different from usual”, “Nothing I can think of you’d find exciting”, “Nothing. Something that would be too difficult to explain right now.”
    When I was teaching I always sent a note home at the end of each day telling parents a couple of the things we had done to use as conversation starters.

    1. Great point about “nothing!” We can’t truly know what that means to each child. Such a nice idea to send that note home for conversation starters! I used to put some relevant question prompts in my weekly newsletter.

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