Originally posted here.
1. What did [INSERT TEACHER’S NAME / FRIEND’S NAME / PRINCIPAL’S NAME HERE] say today?
It’s one thing to ask “How was Mrs. Smith today?” or “How was Kevin today?” but when you ask what they SAID, your kids have to stop and really think about what they said. I find the answers I get are far longer and more detailed when I ask this question.
And it even works with my husband. I used to just ask him general questions and get annoyed when he neglected to tell me most things. Now I ask him what a specific co-worker said during the day, and I get much more specific answers.
2. What color were your teacher’s shoes today?
This may seem like a funny question, but without asking this, I would never know that my daughter’s teacher LOVES flip flops. She loves them so much that she (apparently) owns 20 pair – even a pair with Mickey Mouse on them. She has a flip flop tote bag that she carries her lunch in, and she even wears flips flops in the winter.
And my son – who used to not be able to tell me many details about anything – is now able to tell me the shoe color of every single teacher he comes into contact with throughout the day.
Random? A little. But I have to believe that asking them to notice details, and recall that information, will help them at some point in life. (And now I know to get Alice’s teacher a pair of flip flops for her teacher gift, right?)
3. Did anything scare you at school today?
I don’t ask this question every day, but I try to ask it at least once a week. It’s how I found out that they played a game last year where the kids all had to hide, and a police officer walked around the building. If he could see you, you lost. But if he couldn’t see you, then you won. (My son’s class won.)
It’s how I found out exactly where they go in the school for tornado drills. How often they have fire drills. And also how I learned that my son was terrified to climb the rope in gym class.
None of this information came out in our typical end of day talks about school. But it all came out when I asked this specific question.
4.What made you laugh today?
Oh my gosh – the fun answers I get to this question! Some days I get to hear about someone snorting milk out his nose at the lunch table. Other days I hear funny jokes (that I don’t always get) or I hear about something silly their teacher did in class.
Even if I don’t understand the joke or story, seeing their eyes light up and hearing the laughter in their voice always gets me laughing too. And I figure ANYTIME I can laugh with my kids is a good thing.
5. Who did you sit with at lunch? Who did you play with at recess?
I love hearing about my kids’ friends. If I start hearing the same name over and over, I know it might make sense to set up a playdate. If I ONLY hear the same names, then I might want to encourage them to include other kids as well.
6. Are any of your classmates having a hard time lately?
For the most part, I ask this question to start conversations about how we can help our friends and classmates if they’re having a rough time. Maybe we can write them a note, sit with them at lunch or loan them our best markers.
But it’s also how I learned that the mom of one of Miles’s classmates died. That was not a conversation I wanted to have with my son, but I’m so glad we had it.
Now that you have your kids talking, keep that conversation going!