I Don’t Ask My Kids “How Was Your Day?”

I Don’t Ask My Kids “How Was Your Day?”

My oldest wakes up talking and is only silent when she is sleeping, so conversation isn’t short in our house. But, my Monday-Friday is spent with exhausted teenagers who aren’t always as keen on talking to an adult as they are with each other. I find that when I ask how their day is going, they most often respond with “Fine.” Since I hear so much of that on a daily basis at work, when my oldest reached the phase of being able to respond to me when I asked a question, I was determined to figure out how to get her used to giving an answer other than “fine” as early as possible. Here are the questions I ask my daughter instead of “How was your day” in order to get a true sense of how things were and indirectly teach her how to have a two-way conversation before she even turned 5:

1. What was something that made you happy at school today?
2. Was there anything that made you feel sad or frustrated at school today?
3. Which friend did you play with today that you didn’t play with yesterday?
4. Did you do anything today that made you feel proud?
5. What is something you did today that you would like to do again tomorrow?
6. What is your favorite thing you did today at school?
7. Do you have any questions about anything that happened at school today?

We don’t always use every question on this list, but some version of at least 5 of these (my daughter will say, “5 questions because I’m five”) is exchanged on the car ride home or during bath time. These questions are about as deep as we can get with the ages my kids are currently, but I do pull some of these when I’m trying to figure out why my high school sophomores look like they can barely stay upright in their chairs or why they’re bouncing off the walls during a morning class. Often I’ll throw in, “What is something about your day that you wish I could help you with?” or “What has made you smile today?” when talking to older kids because they need a way to express what they need and also a reminder that even on the most stressful days, we need to be able to see what makes us happy.

I love asking my daughter these questions, and I especially love thinking about how much this exchange between her and I has changed in the three years she’s been in school. When she was in PK2, I’d stick with asking what made her happy or which friend she played with. By PK3, she would answer five of these questions; and this year in PK4, she asks me these questions back after answering and we get to have a real conversation. As she and her sister get older, these questions will have to get more creative and can maybe even be a little sillier. I know that one day my vibrant five-year-old will become a teenager who will try to throw a “fine” at me instead of the mini-novel she gives me now, but hopefully this end-of-the-day conversation will be so much a part of our routine that she’ll be the one asking questions and offering her own responses without me having to ask. 

Alison Ruckert
Alison was born and raised in New Orleans. After 7 years in north Louisiana for college and her first years of teaching, she returned home, and now lives in Metairie with her husband, two daughters, and dog. She has spent the past 16 years teaching high school English and Speech. When not at school, she enjoys weekend and summer break days with her family, including her two strong-will, high-spirited daughters who keep life interesting and moving at all times. She cannot survive a day without coffee and will drop everything if you ask her to join you at PJ's or go have chips and salsa. Watching her kids grow up with family and friends close by and in the city she loves so much is the greatest thing she could ask for.


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