The other day, I posed a question to our Facebook followers asking them how they got their kids to talk about their day at school because as we know, if you simply ask, "How was school?", you get the super informative, "Good" in response.
It was a great question to pose because there were many, many ideas offered. From asking different questions such as, "What was something funny that happened today?" and "What was the best thing about today?" to using their artworks to start conversations, people had quite the variety of strategies.
Over the years I have tried most of these strategies to varying levels of success but never have they really given me the outcome I was looking for.
I wanted to know why.
So I did some digging and found an article from Alice Bradley via Offspring, that really made me sit up and take notice because in it, Alice suggests quite strongly:
"Don’t ask your kid what happened at school that day. Just don’t."
I beg your pardon? But I need to know! I am always interested in their classmates, their teacher, their schedule and their work because for many years I knew exactly how their day was because I was there - now I literally have no idea.
After I picked my jaw off the floor, I read on and it turns out that Alice isn't actually mad and does happen to understand that you want to know about your child's day and that no matter how old they are, you are always going to be interested in their life.
However, Alice is of the opinion that we are going about it the wrong way. In the first place, those "tricky" questions we ask to get the kids to engage simply don't work.
"...you’re not fooling anyone with those “questions about school that aren’t ‘how was your day,’” supposedly designed to get your kid talking...These are horrible. Your child sees right through them, and you."
But asking the question regardless of the form is not really the problem. As far as Alice is concerned (and I tend to agree), the real problem is our timing. Turns out that just like adults, when they're done for the day, kids like to wind down too.
"...they’ve just been through the academic and social wringer. School has taken its toll. Now they’re out of school. What’s the last thing they want to talk about? School. School is the thing that is over. And now you are demanding a recap. No."
So it's not that they don't want to talk, it just that they don't want to talk "right now". It made sense. So for the last week, I've not been asking. And you know what, it's worked. Instead of asking I've been doing as Alice suggests and simply telling the kids how much I missed them and asking how they are. Then we've gone about the rest of our day.
And every night during our bedtime routine, they have offered a recap of their day of their own accord which I've been able to listen to in quiet and comfort.
And if I wanted more information, I found that over breakfast the next morning was a great time to delve into it because everyone's fresh and the kids seem to love the fact that I remembered.
It's early days, but I'm really enjoying this new found freedom.
You can read Alice's full article here.