No matter how chatty your kids are, getting any information from them about their day can be challenging. What do you ask? How do you avoid one-word responses? To help make dinner tables everywhere more interesting, we tested a few sure-fire questions and methods that promise to have your kids sharing their day in no time. See them all below.

photo by kazuend via Unsplash

Toddlers

These little guys are just learning to speak and express themselves, so keep the questions simple and to the point.

1. What was a new or funny word you heard today and why?
Usually, toddlers think the new word sounds like a bathroom word—lovely, but it gets them laughing, sharing where they heard it, and how it was said. And it’s a good way to segue into learning more words and showing that learning can be fun.

2. When were you happiest today at school (or daycare)?
Younger kids aren’t always great at expressing how they feel or what they feel, but they do know two emotions pretty well—happiness and sadness. Asking them when they felt super happy in school is an easy way to show interest in their day, and it also helps reinforce that fun/good things happen at school.

3. Along the same lines, ask what was the best thing that happened in school today?
And like the above, this question reinforces school being fun where cool things happen, and it gets kids excited to return. It can be anything from seeing a fire truck to eating a new type of snack, but it’s a good way to see how your child reacts to the different aspects of school or daycare.

photo by Providence Doucet via Unsplash

Preschool

Once children hit official preschool and Pre-K, they’re a little better at explaining what they like/dislike, but they also tend to just answer yes or no and run off and play.

1. What’s the coolest place in school?
Pre-K kids are the purveyors of cool (at least, to themselves) and they’ll love to share what they think is the cat’s meow. Sometimes, for a newly potty-trained child, that might even be the bathroom! But you’ll just love the fact that she’s sharing with you, no matter what the subject.

2. Who did you sit with at circle time/lunch/story time/playtime/etc? and, If you could choose whom to sit with, whom would you pick?
Even if your kids have been in the same school with many of the same kids for years on end, it’s still fun hearing how excited they get about certain friends. Plus, it reminds kids that school isn’t just all books, lessons, and homework.

3. Tell me something that made you laugh today.
Like the above questions for toddlers, this one is a good way to gauge your kids’ sense of humor. And if they’re acting appropriately in school. Are they laughing at other kids? Or at jokes? During the lesson? If it’s all in good fun, letting your kid tell you what they find funny is a great way to liven up dinnertime.

photo: U.S. Department of Agriculture via Flickr

Elementary School

Welcome to the real world. Or at least the real school world. Once children are in kindergarten, there’s less coddling and more expectations. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t coddle them at home. Ask them questions that make them stop and think and really consider their actions.

1. Did you help anyone today or did anyone help you?
Maybe they shared their pencils or crayons, or maybe they held the door for a teacher carrying supplies. Either way, you want to show your kids the importance of helping out and being kind. This question is a good way to reinforce how important kindness is without overtly saying it.

2. What do you think your teacher would tell me about you?
Would their teacher say they raise their hand nicely? Do they participate in the lesson? Are they nice to others? This question gets children thinking about the ways others perceive them and may help ward off bad behavior.

3. What did you learn today?
Ok, so this one seems kind of obvious, but with social media, email, and blogs, we often already know what our kids are learning before they’re even off the bus. But, just because you know they’re working on the letter P this week, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t let them tell you, too!

photo: Franklin County Library via Flickr

Tweens On Up

LOL. IRL. BRB. Sometimes, it may seem like your tweens speaks another language. And sometimes they do. SMH. But there are things you can ask them at the dinner table to get them talking about their day, hopefully leaving the slang and abbreviations (and smartphones) out of it.

1. When were you bored today?
Kids always think they’re bored. This is a good intro to discovering what they’re interested in … science isn’t boring, but math is yawn-inducing and geography is totally fascinating. Plus, kids like to complain, so this is a chance to let them blow off some steam.

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2. Who is the funniest person in your class?
Maybe your kid is the class clown. Or maybe they’re a serious student. This question will get them chatting about class dynamics: which person is funny, what they did, when is it OK to be silly and when isn’t it?

3. What would you change about school?
This one will get a huge response. It may not make sense (ice cream for lunch and no homework come to mind), but it’ll get your children talking and thinking about things they like and don’t like and sharing them with you.

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Will you ask your kids any of these questions? Share with us in a comment below. 

— Felissa Allard