Banish the one-word response by asking a different question

As parents, we all want to know what our kids are up to during their school day. But the truth is, asking, “How was your day?” often leads to a pretty lackluster response. This back-to-school season, let’s try a different approach. We got expert advice on when and how to get the need-to-know scoop from kids, plus 25 creative prompts to get the conversation flowing. With any luck, the word “fine” will be banished forever.

Dr. Rebecca Jackson, a Brain Wellness Expert and author of ‘Back on Track, A Practical Guide to Help Kids of All Ages Thrive,’ emphasizes the importance of asking questions at the right time and in the right way. Instead of parents bombarding their kids with questions when they get home from school, she suggests waiting for about 20 minutes and (always!) offering a snack before starting a conversation. Additionally, parents should give their kids enough time and space to respond, as they may need more time to process information.

Dr. Jackson also recommends leading with curiosity and avoiding a confrontational tone that may leave kids feeling defensive. When parents stay positive and show support, it encourages kids to share their true thoughts and feelings.

Related: 45 Conversation Starters That’ll Get the Kids Talking

Wondering how to get the conversation started? Try these creative prompts that work better than ‘How Was Your Day?’

father and daughter talking about their day


1. Who did you sit with at lunch today?

2. What did you play at recess?

3. What's the funniest thing that happened today?

4. What’s the coolest thing you learned today?

5. Was your lunch good today? Any requests for tomorrow?

6. What was the nicest thing you did for someone else today?

7. If one of your friends could be the teacher for the day, who would you want it to be?

8. What would you rate today on a scale of 1-10?

9. Was there anything that made you feel frustrated today? Follow up with, is there something we can do tonight to help make it better for tomorrow?

10. Did you read anything you loved today?

11. Did you hear any music you want to share with me

12. If you can switch seats with anyone in the class, who would it be and why?

13. What's one thing that made you smile today?

14. Did anything surprise you about today?

15. What was the hardest rule to follow today?

16. When did you feel most proud of yourself today?

17. What challenged you today?

18. How did you feel about math today? (this is always a better option than a direct question about a test).

19. Does your teacher remind you of anyone else you know?

20. If you could choose any subject to teach, what would it be?

21. Is there anything I can do to support you?

22. What's one thing you did today that helped a friend or your teacher?

23. If you could fast forward or slow down any part of the day, what would it be?

24. Do any of your friends have a nickname they like?

25. What's one thing you'll still remember about today at the end of the year?

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