Stop asking your kids “How was school today?”

Stop Asking "How was school today?"

So often I hear parents complain that their kids won’t tell them what goes on at school all day. They ask “How was school today?” and they get back:

“Good”

“I don’t know”

“What’s for dinner?”

I get it, I’ve fallen into that trap too! To get the most out of your chats with kids, here’s a few tips to follow

  • Pick your time wisely

Are they completely exhausted after school? Do they need some food shoved in their gob before you start with 20 questions? Are they a screen zombie? Or are they happy and chatty and ready to talk? I find chatting to Pebble when she’s doing something else, like eating a snack or drawing a picture (not watching TV!) is a good time. She’s happy and settled, and the chat is just that, chat. She’s not being interviewed or under pressure.

  • Ask open ended questions

If your question can be answered with a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ then it’s dead in the water before you’ve even begun. Try some of the conversation starters below.

  • Focus on the positive

Think about the kid you’re talking to and what their big worries are – and avoid them! If you know your child has anxiety about friends or who to play with or struggles with learning, then steer clear of those minefields at first, to avoid them clamming up. Once you get them talking then they might choose to open up about the things that they struggle with. Definitely make time to talk about their worries too, but it’s important that kids (and adults!) reflect on their day and remember the good stuff. It’s all too easy to focus on what went wrong.

  • Give them time. Lots of time. 

Sometimes we ask a child a question, then before they’ve had a chance to answer we butt in with another question. It can seem like they’re not going to answer so we try to keep the conversation going. But young children need time to think and form a response. Try counting to ten in your head after asking a question to allow plenty of time for them to answer.

Try these questions:

  • What the best part of your day?
  • What made you laugh today?
  • If you got to be the teacher tomorrow, what would you do?
  • How were you caring to your friends today? How were your friends caring to you?
  • Did you hear or read a story today? What was your favourite part of the story?
  • What made you feel happiest today?
  • What are you looking forward to at school tomorrow?
  • Did you learn any new games today? Can you teach them to me?
  • Who would you like to play with that you’ve never played with before?
  • Where do you play the most at recess and lunch time?
  • Who is the funniest person in your class? What do they do that’s funny?

p.s. this advice applies to kids aged 4-8 ish… cos that’s my jam! If you want to have a good convo with a teenager you’ve come to the wrong place for advice. Get back to me in about ten years.

How do you talk to your kids about their day? Got any tips for me?

Magic Number – A Subitising Game

Magic Number - A subitising game for young children

Magic Number - A subitising game for young children

I have been practising subitising and subitising and MORE subitsing with the five year olds in our classroom.  There are lots of fun ways to learn this skill! Learning to subitise is a super important foundation maths skill for young children, they can never get enough of it.

You can find more subitising games here >>> Learning About Numbers – Subitising and Number Recognition

Here is a simple game that we’ve been playing. You might like to try it out with the four and five year olds in your life.

Magic Number

Number of players: 1 (a whole class can play this at the same time)

You will need:

  • 1 six sided die
  • 1 whiteboard (or piece of paper)
  • 1 whiteboard marker (or pencil)
  • 1 dice mat*

*the dice mat is just for making the sound of 24 children rolling dice a little quieter!!

How to play:

  • Think of a ‘magic number’ from 1 – 6.
  • Roll the dice onto your dice mat and into your bear cave. A what now? A bear cave means slightly cupping your hand on the desk as a little gutter to stop the dice from rolling off the table. It helps prevent over eager dice rollers!!
  • Look at the number on the dice and say it to yourself, eg. if you roll a 6, say “six!”
  • If the number you’ve rolled is your magic number, draw a tally mark on your whiteboard.
  • Keep playing and adding tally marks to your board every time you roll your magic number.
  • See how many magic numbers you can roll!

Adults might not think that this simple game is much fun but kids who are just learning about number get super excited when they see their magic number appear!

Here are some other subitising activities that I use in the classroom: