Parents are excited to see their children come home from school and are eager to find out what they did and learned about that day. And, in millions of homes across the country, a variation of the same conversation takes place every afternoon:

“How was school today?”
“Fine.”

“What did you do?”
“Nothing.”

If that sounds familiar, just know you have a lot of company. Fortunately, there are effective ways to get more information out of your kids without subjecting them to the third degree. It’s all about what and how you ask them. Instead of “How was school today?,” try:

What was the best thing that happened today?

This question forces the kids to reflect and starts the conversation on a positive note.

What was the toughest thing you did today?

School isn’t supposed to be easy. Brains grow by being challenged, and it’s good to acknowledge when your kids are working hard.

Did anyone do anything funny or when was a time you laughed today?

You can probably still remember funny moments from your own school days. Shared laughter also helps you bond.

What did you read about in class?

Kids learn new things every day, and you never know what might interest them. This question can spark conversations about the topics they mention.

Who did you play with at recess and what did you do?

It’s good to know who your kids choose to spend their free time with and what they enjoy doing.

Is your (name a subject) too hard or too easy?

It can be interesting to get a perspective on how your student is being challenged.

How is this year different from last year?

School years may seem to blend together, but each year includes deliberate differences (and different teachers). Learning how to adapt to changes is a key growth skill.

Are there any rules at school that don’t seem fair?

Your goal isn’t to change the rules but to see how your child reacts to situations that don’t seem to be fair. You can compare school rules to those of your family.

Who did you have lunch with?

Again, it’s a great way to learn who your kids are comfortable around.

Can you share something you learned today?

Remembering and sharing new information or a skill reinforces what happens in the classroom.

If you’re finding it difficult to connect with your children, or you’re becoming frustrated by conversations like these, one of our professionals can help you and your child discover more effective ways to communicate. Contact us today to set a convenient appointment.

Mike Spencer is one of Care to Change’s professional counselors. Trained in trauma based treatment, parenting and children’s issues, Mike helps parents cope with today’s unique challenges. Mike also helps men with addictions, church leaders, and kids who are having a difficult time dealing with life.