No, we did not, in fact, do nothing today in school. As a teacher, I know intimately well that this response is not true, but how do you get your kids to volunteer information?
Well, first of all, sometimes they might just not want to talk so give kids at least 30 minutes from when you meet / pick them up to begin asking questions. We generally respect this rule with adults so kids should receive the same courtesy.
Also, ask a combination of open-ended and specific questions. This is the best way to collect necessary information (when the next field trip is) and emotional/social information (who are they playing with during recess and why).
Finally, play dumb. As an ESL teacher, language barriers and lack of cultural understanding have often left me actually dumb rather than just playing it. However, going in with no understanding and no judgment leads to really honest interactions. Use this strategy with your kids, and don’t assume you know their answers to your questions.
Here are 10 questions plus follow up that you can try out…
1. What story did your teacher read? What questions did she ask you about it?
2. What did you eat for lunch? Who did you sit next to? Who finished eating first? Did your friends buy their lunch or bring it from home?
3. What was your class schedule today? Do you like when your classes are in that order? Why or why not?
4. What game / sport did you play in P.E. class? How did you you feel while playing it? How were the teams picked?
5. What are your teacher’s plans for this week? What topic will you be learning about? What activities will you be doing?
6. Who was absent from your class today? Were many students absent? Why?
7. What did you do during recess? Was it cool/hot/rainy during recess? How did you decide to play kickball / play tag?
8. How did you feel when school was over? What did you do when school finished? What do your friends do when school is over?
9. Are there any field trips or school wide events coming up? What is the focus of these activities? How are you involved?
10. What did you write in your planner for this week? What do you need for tomorrow? Is there anything I can help you with?
11. Which class did you enjoy the most today? What did you like about it?