Many parents will recognize this: you see your child after school and you enthusiastically ask how their day at school was. But instead of a good answer, you get hardly any response. The answer does not go beyond "good" or "ok". Or you just get some growling (and you think: "Oh help, the adolescent phase has begun"). Sometimes you try to keep on asking "And what have you done?" but even that doesn't really start the conversation. Fortunately, there are better questions.

 

Good Questions to Ask after School


The problem with "How was school?"

However well-intentioned, the question "How was school?" can't land well for several reasons. The question has two problems:

1. The question is often too general for a child. You can compare it with asking the question to an older person: "How was your life?" Well, what do you have to answer then? Sometimes good, sometimes bad, sometimes a lot happened, sometimes it was boring. Where should you start answering?

2. The question is too cliché. We all know the question "How are you?" that adults can ask each other. How often is not the answer: "Good", when there can be a lot going on. The question may be so standard that your child (unconsciously) does not feel invited to really answer it.

 

Tips for starting a conversation with your child about the school day.

By asking other questions you might be able to prevent this from happening. That's why you'll find below a list of 60 questions you can also ask your child after a school day. First, however, we have a few tips:

  • First give a sincere compliment. As we wrote earlier, a good, sincere compliment gives an open attitude. Then ask a good question. An example: "You come out with pleasure; [question]". or "You are dirty! Good job; [question]".
  • Secondly, ask a closed question about something obvious. You often hear that it is good to ask open ended questions instead of closed questions. This is - as we will explain in detail - not provably true. In fact, in many cases it is better to start with a good closed question. This is more likely to lead to a positive, more open feeling. Then you continue asking questions (see below). So it is better to ask the question: "Did teacher read something today?" instead of "What did teacher read today?".
  • Choose a subject / theme / goal. The problem with "How was your day?" is that this question is very general (see above). It is better to question your child on a certain topic. About what your child has learned, about bullying, the relationship with the teacher, boyfriends and/or girlfriends, the break, spelling, animals, the current theme, et cetera. Tip: of course alternate the subjects.
  • Wait a moment to start the conversation. Don't make the mistake of tiring your child directly on the schoolyard or in the car with all kinds of questions. Even if you ask good questions, it may be better to take a break. Remember that after a long day at work full of hassle, you don't always feel like talking about it right away to your partner.
  • Also think about how you are going to continue asking questions. If you have asked a good first question (often closed) you will continue asking. For example, you start with the question: "Are there children who like to be alone during the break?" and then you ask: "How do you know if they really like this?". Consider asking a thought experiment at some point in time. These are ideal starting questions to discuss a topic (main question / main theme). These are questions that start with "Suppose that ..." or "What if ...". (see also the questionnaire below). By the way: you don't work at the criminal investigation department, do you? Do not ask too many questions.
  • Perhaps the most important tip: Don't forget that with your question you show what you think is important. I often ask the question: "Did you ask another question?". Or a variant of it. I think it is important that children remain curious and have the courage to ask questions. Not surprisingly of course. By asking this question often, I show its importance.

 

"What I was wondering today is, who in the classroom is actually the most opposite of how you are?

 

A list of questions with alternative questions for the "How was school today?

Below you will find our questionslist. Last advice: don't forget to make the questions your own. If necessary, ask an open ended question, or turn the questions into a closed question. If necessary, begin with "I was thinking ... ". Or start the question with "What I was wondering ..." to let your question arise from your inquiring, inquisitive, curious attitude. This will make you a good example for your child (you show a learning attitude and sincere interest) and the question will be answered sooner.

  1. Did you ask a good question today?
  2. Have you thanked anyone today?
  3. Have you been able to help anyone today?
  4. Did anyone do anything that was very nice / unkind?
  5. Did teacher read anything else? (Which book was this?)
  6. How did someone else help you today?
  7. Mistakes are allowed so I am curious: what was your biggest mistake today?
  8. Did you see someone cry today at school?
  9. Is there a question about this school day that you would like me to ask?
  10. Which five kids did you talk to today?
  11. Who did you have dinner with during the break (follow-up question: did you do anything besides eating? follow-up question: what are you talking about?).
  12. With whom do you prefer to discover new things?
  13. Suppose there were Martians who would take one person with them, who would this be?
  14. Suppose you were allowed to choose for yourself, who would you like to sit next to?
  15. Suppose you were allowed to change something in class to stop bullying, what would this be?
  16. Suppose a child were to move, who do you hope it would be?
  17. Suppose you could be invisible, what would you do at school?
  18. Suppose you were a teacher tomorrow; what would you change first?
  19. Suppose you could read your teacher's thoughts, what would you want to know?
  20. Suppose you were a teacher, which part / subject / ... would you change immediately?
  21. Suppose your teacher would call me tonight, what would she want to tell me?
  22. Suppose we would change places tomorrow - so I go to school - would you give me some advice?
  23. What was everyone talking about today? What was the conversation of the day?
  24. What would you have liked more time for today?
  25. What are you looking forward to tomorrow?
  26. What were you laughing about the most today? (or start with a closed question: Well, did you laugh today?)
  27. What do you play with the most during the break?
  28. What will the masters and teachers talk about after school / in the break / ...?
  29. When was the last time you were scared / anxious / [other characteristic] at school?
  30. When were you happiest / most happy today at school?
  31. When were you getting bored?
  32. Was anyone not there today?
  33. What do you think you should learn at school?
  34. What went well today? And super good?
  35. What would you have wanted to do less today?
  36. What did you make today?
  37. What did you discover today?
  38. What did you learn today?
  39. What did you do today for the first time in your life?
  40. What do you hope will change before the end of the school year?
  41. What is the coolest place in the classroom / school?
  42. What is your favorite part of lunch?
  43. What did you like best today to eat at lunch?
  44. What did you find the hardest part of the day?
  45. What wasn't so much fun today?
  46. What was the best thing you experienced today?
  47. What was the worst thing you made today?
  48. What was your favorite part of the day?
  49. What was "a weird story" today?
  50. What wasn't so much fun today?
  51. What did the teacher say the most today?
  52. What would you do at school tomorrow compared to today?
  53. What grade would you give the day?
  54. Which line of teacher do you find difficult to follow?
  55. What questions did you ask today?
  56. Who in the classroom is allowed to do something nicer/ nicer/ [other characteristic]?
  57. Who in your class is the opposite of how you are?
  58. Who is the funniest person in your class?
  59. Are there any kids who like to be alone in the break?
  60. Who did you play with in the break today?
  61. What do other children have on their bread? (follow-up question: and what do you like about this?)
  62. Were you still angry with someone? (be careful not to ask the question too often; the ideal is of course not to be angry).
  63. And, did you have a nice day at school? (but note: this question can - just like the question "How was it at school? - be too general for the child. A possible follow-up question would be: "What made you think today was a nice day at school?")
  64. Do you have any news?

Do you have additional questions that you ask or have heard other parents ask? We would love to hear them!