8 cunning ways to get an ACTUAL answer about their day at school.
“How was school today?”
“What did you do?”
Probably the most annoying answers a child can give you.
However, this exact, thrilling conversation between grown-ups and children is heard all around the world between 3 and 3.30pm local time, like an echo on the line in a bad phone signal area.
It’s infuriating. You’ve been chained to your desk (being the best employee ever, like me) or dashing about like a lunatic all day and you could come up with 1001 things to tell your child that you did (that they’d find almost as boring as you), yet they don’t even have the decency to make something cute up about Duplo or reading or playing chase to put a smile on your face. We are not a tough crowd at this point dammit!
I would also genuinely like to know what my offspring has been getting up to whilst in someone else’s care for hours on end.
So after many deep breaths and a LOT of trial and error, I’ve figured out a few ways to glean a little blood from my particular child-shaped stone.
1) Unless he runs out of pre-school as chatty as can be, I don’t bother asking him about his day until we’re home and he’s had a drink and a snack. Best not to anger the tired, hungry beast.
2) ‘How was your day?’ NEVER works unless I want a one word answer. I think it’s just too big a question for his brain to compute.
3) Asking creative specifics – things like “Who did you sit next to at lunch?” can sometimes prompt a decent discussion. Or “who was the funniest person in class today? What did she do?!”
4) He likes getting things right. And being silly. So when I say things like “How did you like the slug sandwich in your lunch today?” he’ll laugh and correct me and tell me what he did have. Or “Of course! It’s Thursday! Imogen goes to school on the Moon today doesn’t she?” knowing full well that he’ll say “No she wasn’t Mummy! She was at my school and we did painting / played chase / ate lunch together.”
5) I avoid the closed ‘yes or no’ questions. It’s too easy for him not to think and just to blurt out that one word and then get bored of talking.
6) I like to talk to him about my day at work. He took it quite badly when I went back after maternity leave, but I’m proud of working and happy to tell him about my day. He’s always interested and sometimes I’ve sneakily got him to open up about school this way.
7) Often, after bedtime story, he pulls out all the delaying tactics possible (don’t they all?). So it’s a prime time to do a deal about 5 facts about things you did at school today for 5 minutes extra before lights out. Cunning plan… Unless your dinner’s going cold / Prosecco’s going flat downstairs…
8) And when he does start gabbing, I let him go – don’t interrupt the flow! A few times I’ve cut in with a ‘ohhh you mean this?’ and he’s clammed up. Each ummm and errrr seems to develop his thinking and leads to something else. A good silence from me often means he’ll fill it. I love to see the cogs turning too – super cute.
Failing that, I find out nothing about his week until something sparks a thought in the supermarket, or another Mum messages me with an amusing story her child has told her about mine!
What works with your infuriatingly too tired/too hungry/too whingey small person at 3pm?
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