By Joshua Straub
A new school year not only gives our kids the chance to learn new things about the world around them, but also gives them opportunities to learn how to interact with the world around them. Whether you homeschool or your children go to public or private school, your kids’ budding brains are being stretched in so many ways — not just cognitively, but also emotionally and relationally.
As the guy who wrote a book on the importance of emotional intelligence in kids, I care more about my children’s character than I do about them getting straight A’s. I hope one day, when I’m old and frail, I can look back with fondness and pride on the legacy I’m leaving, knowing that my children love God and love all people.
But how can we know, today, what’s really going on inside the hearts and minds of our kids when all we receive in response to our heartfelt, “How was your day?” is…
So you probe, “Did you like it?”
At least it’s a start. You inquire further, “What did you like about it?”
Child: “I don’t know. Can we watch a movie when we get home?”
With this kind of exchange over time, it’s easy to cave to the movie and stop asking questions. That’s why we have to consider not just the type of question we ask but also the best time of the day to ask it. On the drive home, your child is likely tired and ready to unplug. With that in mind, consider asking the following questions at the dinner table, or when you tuck them into bed — which is often the most emotionally available time of the day for our kids.
21 After-School Questions to Get Your Kids Talking
- What’s one thing that really made you laugh today?
- What was your most favorite part of the day?
- What is one thing (subject, activity, etc.) you like/dislike about school? Tell me about that.
- What do you like about ________________ (i.e. your teacher, math, spelling, etc.)?
- Share one thing you know now that you didn’t know when you woke up this morning.
- Whom did you play with the most at school today? What did you do together?
- Who is someone you don’t like hanging out with? Why is that?
- Who is someone at school (or a friend you know) who always seems to do the right thing? Tell me about him/her.
- What is one thing you’re not looking forward to this week? How do you plan to make the most of it?
- Is there a problem you faced today that you solved? How did you solve it?
- When did you feel most proud of yourself today?
- Did anyone push your buttons today? Tell me about that. How did you react/respond?
- What is one thing you want God to help you with at school this week?
- What would you like to talk about tonight?
- Name one thing that happened today that you’re very thankful for.
- Is there a friend or classmate you have trouble getting along with? How can you be a better friend?
- Who is someone (a friend at school, a teacher, sibling, etc.) you saw act with integrity today? What did they do?
- What was the most difficult thing you had to deal with today? How did you get through it?
- What about school makes you happy?
- If you could change one thing about school, what it would be?
- What is one thing we can do as a family after school or on the weekend that would brighten your day?
Joshua Straub, Ph.D. is a speaker, author, and marriage and leadership coach. He and his wife, Christi, cohost the In This Together podcast and are coauthors of What Am I Feeling? and Homegrown: Cultivating Kids in the Fruit of the Spirit.