When my three year old started school, I was more excited than he was! Obviously, he didn’t have any clue as to what school meant and hence, sensed the excitement and apprehension through me. Nonetheless, the moment he stepped inside the school building, he realized the place was going to be a different zone than home. He clutched my hand tightly and walked cautiously as if there was a time bomb ticking underneath somewhere.
Since he had already been into a playschool, he had a hunch what school would be like (a place without mummy and daddy). The moment he saw his teachers, he clung onto me like a monkey, insisting to be picked up! He refused to go to his teachers, who finally had to cajole and take him away, amidst his high pitched screams and yells!
Although, I left him, but somewhere deep down I felt like a guilty mother, who had left her child alone in a bad world! I convinced myself that things would be fun inside and my son would end up sharing the brighter side of school in few hours! However, nothing happened!
I mean, although, I jumped up and down, hovered and asked, “How was your day in school?” one hundred times, yet he didn’t say much. In fact, he didn’t say anything! I was shattered because I had pinned my hopes on elaborate explanations that would follow suit, post his arrival from school!
I too remained persistent and would ask the same dreary question again every day. Things got better and my kid was saying at least a “fine” or “good” in reply to my pervasive question, but nothing more than that. I was getting more disappointed for not getting the answers out of him.
A couple of days later, I realized that my question was pretty dreary, open ended, to some extent boring and vague! I mean, when I was asked the same question, I also said the same answer as my kid! That was when I realized I had to ask something more specific, to get more specific answers!
I figured out and rephrased that ubiquitous question, as in “How was your day in school?” into some more specific questions. It worked, bang on, right from day one! Sharing a couple of worthy ways of asking the same monotonous question, but in ways to keep that excitement in your child.
- What did you eat for lunch today?( It is actually my priority question as he often gets going, elaborating on everything he did while he ate his lunch in school)
- Were your friends there in school today? What were they wearing? ( Another bang on, because he loves talking about what all his friends did, post describing them)
- What did you play? Did you play at the play gym or big field?( The specificity of the question allows him to pause and think and answer in a specific way)
- Did something funny happen today?( Even if it doesn’t work initially, he looks forward to finding something funny, for the sake of this damn question!)
- Were you nice to someone today? Who and what nice thing did you do today? (Now, this is another question rephrased in place of “Did you share?” to which my son used to grunt or say a blatant “no”. However, now he feels happy and less grumpy with the word “nice”)
- Did someone do anything nice for you?( Works well vis-à-vis to the previous question as well)
- What story did teacher tell you today? Was it a lion or a mice story?( There might be no lion or mice in his story, but at least he will tell you who and what was in the story)
- Did somebody fight with you today? ( This works wonders and often my son goes into telling some third-party world war stories as well)
- Did you make any new friend today? Who and why do you like him/her?( These questions help as he forces himself into thinking as to why he has like someone and on what parameters)
- Was something too difficult for you today? Give him a situation like undressing, using restroom on his own or eating on his own etc.( This helps him to think of the challenge and it helps you to know the issues he faces while in school)
- Which activity did you do today? Did you do your favorite hand paint activity or sorting or blocks?
- Which area in school is the most fun place? ( Stay geared for the random made-up stories that will follow suit)
- Did you feel proud of yourself today? Why? Did you something good?
- Was there anyone or anything that you did not like? Why?
- Did your teacher do anything fun today?
Make sure you don’t bombard the child with your questions, right after you pick him up from school. Give him a break! School is a verbal instruction manual for him, so again your volley of questions might frustrate and overwhelm him more than you! Get back home, freshen up, and then pick a suitable time. Sometimes, even if he doesn’t answer, he might turn around and come to you to share on his own. Sometimes, you initiating your day at work or home can also trigger than channel of conversation!
You won’t believe the multiple options (as in the questions) you will have, especially once the child starts talking. He would look forward to see you and being asked certain questions on a regular basis.
In fact, now my son asks me how my day was, after I pick him up from school, which definitely perks me up! He too asks me whether I ate or not, if I could work properly or not! These questions from him have helped me understand the need to be specific in asking questions as they have a direct, more positive impact on my son. Not to mention, these questions keep me abreast of his situation and day in school as well!
Try it! You might come up with some better permutation and combinations in questions than the ones posted here. Let me know what works with you.