Open-Ended Questions to Ask Your Child After School for Better Conversations

In between the buzz of soccer practice, music lessons, dinner prep, and homework, many parents like to ask questions to find out about their children’s day. How many times have you seen the following scene play out in your home:

“How was your day at school?”


“What did you learn today?”


Such a conversation can be frustrating for parents who want to be involved in their children’s lives. After all, you can’t help them if you don’t know what situations they are encountering. However, with a different line of questioning, you may get to the root of your children’s day and be able to identify both their successes and their struggles in school. Here are some helpful tips on what to ask your kids after school!

Focus on Others

Sometimes, as adults, we become so engrossed in our own busy days that we forget that our kids also have challenging days at school. In eight hours, they’ve had to sit still, run around, use mathematical formulas, examine cell structures, diagram sentences, remember the causes of the Revolutionary War, and navigate the complex social and emotional issues of dealing with their peers. Whew!

Often, it’s easier for them to reflect on their day through someone else’s actions or perspectives and then allow them to make connections naturally as they are speaking. For example, asking your child, “What was the funniest thing that happened today?,” may not involve something your child did or said and can reveal something else that’s going on. “Everyone laughed when Gina pushed Megan, but I felt bad. She’s done that to me too.”

Examples of these questions include:

  • Which student do you think is the best artist in your grade?
  • Do you know anyone in your class who has a dog or cat?
  • Who in your class is your exact opposite?

By focusing questions on your children’s classmates, you’ll get a sense of the other kids they spend a majority of their time with and hopefully some personal insights from your child.

Pose Questions About Their Teachers

Your child’s teachers love their job and work hard to ensure each student’s success. You’ll get to know their teachers through your children’s eyes by asking questions such as:

  • Which of your teachers do you most admire and why?
  • What do you wish you could tell your teacher?
  • What do you like best about your teacher?
  • What one thing would you like your teacher to do differently?

The questions can be serious or silly in nature, but make sure that they are not gossipy or mean. (Avoid saying the wrong things to your kids.) Your child’s teachers bring their personalities into the classroom just like your child does, so what better way to find out about Mrs. Johnson’s collection of pet snakes?

If All Else Fails, Talk About Food

Sometimes, kids have a day they don’t want to discuss right away. Maybe they had a hard time in the hallway, earned a poor grade on a test, or aren’t feeling well. Even on these days, reach out and make a connection—it means so much more than empty silence.

Your go-to for these days? Food. Ask any question you can think of related to the food they may have seen or eaten that day. It’s easy, it’s non-threatening, and you might even get a laugh about what disgusting flavor combinations your child and their friends created in the cafeteria. You put ketchup on what?!

Keeping the lines of communication open while parenting is always a challenge—but by having some alternatives, you can explore your child’s day through a different lens.


Related Articles

Join our community

Sign up to participate in America’s premier community focused on helping students
reach their full potential.