Liz, a stay-at-home mom and teacher, and her husband, who teaches at a high school came up with these great questions. They made two lists: One for younger school aged children, and one for teens. These questions are simple and clever ways to help open a dialogue about your kids’ day at school.
25 WAYS TO ASK YOUR KIDS "SO HOW WAS SCHOOL TODAY?" WITHOUT ASKING THEM "SO HOW WAS SCHOOL TODAY?"
Liz explains her motivation for these lists:
“This year Simon is in 4th grade and Grace is in 1st grade and I find myself asking them every day after school, ‘So how was school today?’.
And everyday I get an answer like ‘fine’ or ‘good’ which doesn't tell me a whole lot. Or at get at least a full sentence. So the other night I sat down and made a list of more engaging questions to ask about school. They aren't perfect…but I do get at least complete sentences…and some have lead to interesting conversations…and hilarious answers…and a few insights into how my kids think and feel about their time at school.”
25 Ways to Ask Your Kids About School Without Asking About School
#1. What was the best thing that happened at school today? (What was the worst thing that happened at school today?)
#2. Tell me something that made you laugh today.
#3. If you could choose who would you like to sit by in class? (Who would you NOT want to sit by in class? Why?)
#4. Where is the coolest place at the school?
#5. Tell me a weird word that you heard today. (Or something weird that someone said.)
#6. If I called your teacher tonight what would she tell me about you?
#7. How did you help somebody today?
#8. How did somebody help you today?
#9. Tell me one thing that you learned today.
#10. When were you the happiest today?
#11. When were you bored today?
#12. If an alien spaceship came to your class and beamed up someone who would you want them to take?
#13. Who would you like to play with at recess that you've never played with before?
#14. Tell me something good that happened today.
#15. What word did your teacher say most today?
#16. What do you think you should do/learn more of at school?
#17. What do you think you should do/learn less of at school?
#18. Who in your class do you think you could be nicer to?
#19. Where do you play the most at recess?
#20. Who is the funniest person in your class? Why is he/she so funny?
#21. What was your favorite part of lunch?
#22. If you got to be the teacher tomorrow what would you do?
#23. Is there anyone in your class that needs a time out?
#24. If you could switch seats with anyone in the class who would you trade with? Why?
#25. Tell me about three different times you used your pencil today at school.
So far…Liz’s favorite answers have come from questions #12. #15, and #21.
We love questions like the "alien" one (#12). They give kids a non-threatening way to say who they would rather not have in their class, and open the door for you to have a discussion to ask why, potentially uncovering issues you didn't know about before.
25 WAYS TO ASK YOUR TEENS "HOW WAS SCHOOL TODAY?" WITHOUT ASKING THEM "HOW WAS SCHOOL TODAY?"
Liz’s and her husband (who also teaches high school) sat down and made a list of 25 ways to ask your teens "How Was School Today?" without asking them "How Was School Today?"…in an effort to get some sort of engaged, interesting dialog…even if it only lasts in that brief time in between them texting friends…
#1. Where in the school do you hang out the most? (Like a particular hall, classroom, parking lot, etc.) Where in the school do you never hang out?
#2. What would your school be better with? What would your school be better without?
#3. If you were a teacher what class would you teach? What class would be the worst to teach? Why?
#4. What was the coolest (saddest, funniest, scariest) thing that you saw today.
#5. Tell me one thing that you learned today.
#6. If your day at school today was a movie what movie would it be?
#7. Besides walking to their next classes, what else do people do in the halls in between classes?
#8. Who do you think you could be nicer to?
#9. What is your easiest class? What is your hardest class? OR What class are your learning the most in? What class are you learning the least in?
#10. If they played music in the halls at school what would everyone want them to play over the loudspeaker?
#11. If you could read minds what teachers mind would you read? What classmates mind would you read? Whose mind would you NOT want to read?
#12. If today had a theme song what would it be?
#13. Which class has your favorite group of students in it? Which class has the worst group of students?
#14. What do you think you should do more of at school? What do you think you should do less of?
#15. What are the top 3 (or 5) things that you hear people say in the halls?
#16. What do you think the most important part of school is?
#17. Tell me one question that you had today…even if it wasn't answered….actually, especially if it wasn't answered…
#18. What class has the most cute boys/girls in it?
#19. If an alien space ship landed at your school who would you like them to beam aboard and take back to their home planet?
#20. Who did you help today? Who helped you today?
#21. If you could be invisible for the day at school what would you do?
#22. What part of the day do you look forward to? What part of the day do you dread?
#23. What would you change about school lunch?
#24. What classmate is most likely to be arrested, made president, become a millionaire, be in movies, let loose a flock of wild chickens in the library, etc.
#25. If you had to go to only one class every day which class would it be?
#26. Tell me one thing you read at school today.
#27. If your day at school was an emocon which one would it be?
#28. What do you think your teachers talked about in the faculty room today after school?
Ok, so I know there were a few more than 25…but with teenagers…we know you need all the help you can get!
Another tip for getting teens to open up is to avoid just sitting them down and asking questions You will find that this method isn't really effective. BUT, if you….say….trap them in the car…and talk to them while you are driving and they don't have to make eye contact… they are more willing to offer up more information or ask more questions.
This also happens while you are working with them on things like making dinner, folding laundry, rearranging furniture, etc. You can casually talk and ask questions without making them feel like you are grilling them.
When Liz taught school sometimes she would make up work project jobs to do with students that she was worried about just so that she could have some heart to hearts while scrubbing desks or cleaning out closets.
GTU wishes you good luck with those teens and happy conversing!
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