How Was Your Day?

“How was your day?”  It’s the automatic question that just pops out of our mouths as parents. You pick up your children from school, you haven’t been with them all day, you want to connect, and so you ask it.  You might even follow-up with “What did you do today?” And more of than not the answers to those questions go something like, “Good.”  and “I don’t know.”

Here’s the thing about those questions.  Asking them becomes a habit, which gives the effort for connection little meaning.  The truth is, our little ones don’t have the capacity to really answer that question.  It’s so big and broad that it is overwhelming to them.  They don’t spend their time at school cataloging all of their activities for the day.  They are living in the moment, working for the sake of working, because it feels good.  They are figuring out routine, learning how to concentrate and make decisions, and feeling what it feels like to be a member of our classroom.

So what should we ask when we greet our children after a day at school?  Is it possible that a question isn’t the greatest greeting for your child?  Consider just a warm welcome with a hug and a smile, and perhaps “It’s so nice to see you.”  Give the connection some space to land, and let your children lead the way.  Do they want to talk?  Do they need some quiet? Are they hungry?  Your children have been on their best behavior holding it all together at school, and you are their comfort.  Be that for them.

There is absolutely a time for learning about each other’s day, and it may even be right after pick up. Sometimes I even start the conversation with a story about my own day.  “Do you want to hear a story about something that made me laugh today?”  My kids love it, and often the conversation about our days will organically unfold from there.  If questions feel more natural to you consider asking specific questions.  Here are some ideas to get you started:

“What made your smile today?”

“Who did you play with on the playground?”

“Which teacher lead line time today?”

“Did you help anyone today?”

“Was there anything that was challenging for you today?”

“What made you laugh today?”

“Who did you sit by at lunch/line time today?”

“What is something you saw that made you think?”

“Were you brave today?”

“Did you ask any questions at school today?”

“What was for snack today?”

“Did you do a work on a rug or a table today?”

I mention this as it is all fresh in my mind these days.  This year for the first time I’m not part of my daughter’s classroom, and I have no idea what is happening during her day.  As her former teacher, this is super tough for me, and I’m working through the adjustment.  I’m practicing patience and learning this new dance with her.  I’m trusting that she’ll share what she feels she needs to and leaning more into the uncomfortable of not knowing every single part of her day.  And as habitual and instinctive as it is, I’m working on refraining from asking her, “How was your day?”





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