Justin Ricklefs

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7 Helpful After School Questions Besides “How Was Your Day?”

How was your day at school?
Good.
Did you learn anything?
Nope.
school bus
Ever had that exchange with your son or daughter?  We have it almost every day at our house.
With three kids in grade school and two in preschool, Brooke and I are learning to ask better questions.
Questions lead to insight.  Insight leads to clarity.  Clarity leads to hearts.  Hearts are what we are after.
wagon
So instead of the lame line of questioning that we’re all used to, what if we asked these instead?
1.  What was the best part of your day?  Allow your child to recount the part of the day that gave them a smile and filled their sails with hope.  It may be a great test score.  Or it may simply be a friend who played with them at recess.  Whatever it is, allow them the opportunity to find joy in their day.  The obvious follow-up is, “what was the worst part?”
2. What kid at school got picked on?  It may have been them and this question gives them permission to cry.  Permission to hurt.  Or it may have been another kid that consistently gets picked on.  Last week Kamden, our 10 year old, came home and told Brooke about a fist fight between two boys.  She’s in fifth grade.  Sad stuff, but we need to know about it.  And once our children start to identify kids that are isolated or picked on, they can start to befriend them.  Notice them. Sit by them at lunch.
3. What made you laugh the hardest?  Kids have an amazing way to remind us adults how to laugh.  Somewhere along the way, adults grow cynical and cold.  But kids laugh and they laugh often.  Be prepared for a fart or booger story, but also be prepared to laugh.  It’s good for you.
4. Where did you struggle the most today?  Once kids are home, they’re moving on to homework, activities, playing in the neighborhood.  But this question forces them to be raw about the areas in which they’re struggling.  Maybe the “mean girl” stuff is starting.  Or maybe there is a subject they hate.  Or even a teacher they can’t figure out.
5. If you could change one thing about your day, what would it be?  You may get a positive answer like, “I would have worked harder to finish my art project.”  Or you may get a candid confession such as, “Mom, I really screwed up.  I cheated on my math test.  I’m sorry.”  We all make mistakes, give your kids the open window to admit their tough spots.
6. Who was the most fun to be around?  This question reinforces the joyful parts of the day.  You will also begin to see new friendships budding or hear about an awesome staff member.
7. What is the best story from school today?  The art of storytelling is learned, and it flows from imagination and creativity.  Kids have that in plenty.  Allow them the gift of sharing a story, even if it’s long and random.  It will fan the flame of their creativity, and it will likely do the same for you.
What questions have worked for you?  Let’s abolish the “how was your day” question from the pick up line or after work routine.
Happy questioning.

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