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22 questions to ask your kid instead of “How was school?”

mother talking with daughter after school - questions to ask instead of how was school
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It’s all too easy to fall into the routine of asking your children the same question as soon as they stride through the door, the completely unoriginal “How was school?” Sure, it gets to the root of what you really want to know, but more often than not, this bland query yields an even blander monosyllabic response like “fine” or even the dreaded “OK,” leaving you none the wiser about what truly happened during your child’s day. To really connect with your kids and understand their daily school experience—after all, they’re out of the house for a good 7+ hours—it’s smart to rethink your approach.

Here’s a guide to help you ask engaging questions that will (hopefully) encourage your child to open up and share more about what they saw, felt, did and experienced at school that day: from partaking in playground antics to learning a new song in music to doing their best work in math class. And though it’s hard to resist peppering them with questions as soon as the bus drives off, for best results (and from personal experience!), you might want to give them a snack and a bit of breathing room before diving in.

22 insightful questions to ask your child about school

1. Can you show me something you worked on today?

This encourages your child to share tangible work, fostering pride in their accomplishments.

2. What made you laugh today?

Focusing on humor can lighten the conversation and reveal the social dynamics you’re so curious about.

3. Did you face any challenges today? How did you deal with them?

Understanding what they view as challenges helps you gauge their resilience and problem-solving skills—and teaches them the power of problem-solving, too.

4. What was the most interesting thing you learned today?

This question shifts the focus to the learning aspect of school, sparking curiosity and reflection.

5. Who did you sit with at lunch, and what did you talk about?

This question provides insight into your kiddo’s social interactions and friendships.

6. Was there a moment today when you felt proud of yourself?

Encouraging self-recognition of achievements fosters confidence.

7. What was the hardest rule to follow today?

This can reveal classroom behavioral expectations—and, crucially, your child’s feelings towards them.

8. Did you have a chance to help anyone today, or did anyone help you?

This can promote a discussion about kindness and cooperation.

9. What are you looking forward to at school tomorrow?

If your kiddo tends to view school in a negative light, this question helps identify positive aspects and future aspirations.

10. Did you read or hear a story today? What was it about?

Asking about what they read encourages sharing about literacy activities and their book preferences.

11. What new fact did you learn today?

Stimulates enthusiasm for learning and sharing knowledge.

12. Did anything surprise you at school today?

Try sharing something that surprised you about your day, too.

13. What was your favorite part of the day?

Just like making a gratitude list, focusing on positive experiences can lift their mood. Try sharing yours, too.

14. Did you have any difficult conversations today? How did you handle them?

Addresses social and emotional learning and conflict resolution.

15. What is something you did today that you’d love to do again?

Identifies enjoyable and meaningful activities.

16. Did you learn any new words today? What do they mean?

Asking about new words encourages vocabulary expansion and language skills.

17. What was the most creative thing you did today?

There’s power too in highlighting creativity and artistic endeavors.

18. How did you feel during your math/science/art class today?

This more targeted question gives insight into subject preferences and emotional responses, especially if they’ve been struggling lately.

19. What question did you ask in class today?

Get a sense of whether they’re participating and feeling confident to raise their hand.

20. Who made you smile today and why?

Maybe it was a close friend, a new substitute teacher, their sweet bus driver.

21. What would you change about today if you could?

Asking this allows some reflection on problem-solving and decision-making.

22. How did you help your teacher today?

Putting the spotlight on being a helper fosters responsibility and empathy.

From the mundane to the monumental, these questions are designed to open up more meaningful dialogue with your child about their school experience. Talking about highlights and lowlights can help them zoom out from the daily grind to see the full picture—and bring you as a parent into the fold a bit more, too. Remember, the key to a successful conversation is to listen actively and respond with empathy, creating a safe space for your child to share and grow.