Is it just us or do conversations with kids after school seem to get shorter as the kids get older?
For instance, if we ask a school-aged kid "How was school?" we can probably predict their answer will be one word, right? It might be "Good", or "Fine". If we're lucky, we might even get a whole phrase, such as "It was okay". Conversation stopper!
We can make after-school conversations more creative and interesting by asking open-ended questions. Open-ended questions can't be answered with a single word because they are designed to encourage full, meaningful answers with opinions.
Open-ended questions prompt kids to think. They generate longer responses, which provide more insights into thoughts and feelings.
Below are 20 open-ended questions that you can try asking kids after school instead of "How was school":
- What did you like the best about today?
- What questions did you ask at school?
- What face expression would you use to describe today and why?
- What did you draw today?
- What cool fact did you learn?
- What did you notice today that others may not have noticed?
- What did you create or build today?
- What surprised you today?
- Did anything challenge you?
- What made you smile?
- Who brought in the best lunch today and what was it?
- What were some of the popular things to do during recess and lunch?
- What compliment did the teacher give you this week?
- What makes your teacher smile or frown?
- Did you do anything helpful today?
- What would you change about school to make it better tomorrow?
- Are all of the school rules fair?
- If you could get help with anything for school, what would you choose?
- Who is similar to you and who is very different from you?
- What do you hope to learn about soon?
Kids get tired after a full day just as adults do, so if these questions don't get the conversation flowing, wait for a better moment that day. But don't wait for another day!
Try inventing your own list of open-ended questions. Here are some prompts, simply fill in the blanks from your imagination:
- How would you feel if ... ?
- What is good about ... ?
- What would you change about ... ?
- Would you rather ... ?
- What causes you to feel ...?
- How do you decide between ... ?
- What would you try if you had unlimited ... ?
- What makes ... your favourite?
- What are the awesome things in your ... ?
- Tomorrow, what would be the best ... ?
Another way to encourage kids to express their thoughts is with an activity book in which they can choose activities to suit their day - we have plenty for school-aged kids.