Does this conversation sound familiar?  

Parent: “How was school today?” Child: “Good.”

Parent: “What did you learn about?” Child: “Nothing.” 

Some children like talking about school. With others, it’s like pulling teeth to get them to share anything about their day.

If your child is one that doesn’t share about their day, there are ways to ask questions that will start a conversation instead of getting the above responses.

Try some of these things to engage your child in a meaningful conversation about their day at school.

  • Ask open-ended questions. If you ask a question that can be answered with one word-that’s what you’ll get. A one word answer.

Here’s an example of an open-ended question: “What was the best thing that you did at school today?”

  • Start with a factual observation. Kids often have a hard time answering questions that seem to come out of the blue. Making an observation gives your child something to relate to.

Example: “I know you have a lot more kids in your class this year. What’s that like?”

  • Share something about yourself. When someone tells you about themselves,        it’s natural to want to do that in return. Share something with your child and see  what you get back.

Example: “We always played dodgeball at recess. What do you and your friends like to do?”

  • Avoid negative questions. If you think something isn’t going well, your questions may come  out in a negative way, with emotion-packed words like sad or mean. Asking in a positive way lets your child express concerns.

Example: “I heard that you sat with new people at lunch today. What did you talk about?”

Here are other examples of how to say things differently to get your child to open up:

     Conversation Starters

Instead of this…. Try this….
How was school? What was the best thing that happened at school today?
How was lunch? Which kids were sitting near you at lunch?
Is your teacher nice? What are some things you like about your teacher?
Do you have any friends? Who do you like talking to the most? What did you talk about?


Sometimes kids, like adults, just don’t feel like talking. It’s important to know when to stop asking questions and save it for another time.

The goal is to establish a safe place and to create a bond with your child so that when it’s truly important they will feel comfortable talking to you about it.

Adapted from an article published by Andrew M.I. Lee, JD