“How was preschool today?”
“What did you do?”
“I don’t remember.”
Does this conversation sound familiar? Getting your preschooler to open up after school can be a challenge!
The reason? Their brains are darting from idea to idea at rapid speed, and their working memory hasn’t fully developed yet. They may have LOVED when Miss Vicky led them on a hunt for the gingerbread man, but that was two hours ago. Plus, right now they’re distracted by something they see out the window.
But you (naturally!) want to know what your child did at school, and you want to know how they felt about it all. And it’s actually good for your preschooler’s brain if you do ask them to open up about their day. Revisiting their day helps their brain to develop while making important connections in their life.
So how can you get your preschooler to open up after preschool? Try these seven tell-me-about-your day tips.
Check Your Questions
It’s natural to say, “How was your day?” And there’s nothing wrong with this question. But if you want your preschooler to open up, try to ask fewer questions that prompt only one-word answers. Questions like, “Did you have fun?” or “Did you have a good day?” don’t invite your child to revisit their day and think about something to share.
Instead of “Did you have fun?”, try, “What was the most fun part of your day?” This will help you get more information, while also helping your child build their memory and communication skills.
Become Familiar with the Preschool Schedule
The more you know about what goes on at preschool each day, the more you can get your preschooler to open up. Use what you know to form your questions.
For example, if you know the preschool does show-and-tell every day, you can ask who brought an item, what it was, and what the child said about that item.
Use the teachers’ names, and ask questions about what they did during different subjects. “What kind of wiggly activity did you do in Miss Kris’ movement class today?”
What other routines or traditions happen at your child’s preschool? At UDA Creative Arts Preschool, we have a special puppet named Tiki who introduces our character traits. Ask your child, “What did Tiki teach you?”
Use the 5 Ws
Help your child think back over their day by asking specific questions that ask them to recall details.
The 5Ws are a helpful guideline in this:
Who did you sit next to at snack time? What art project did you work on today? When did you feel excited today? Where did you play during free time? Why did you get in the car with a smile/frown?
You can also add how questions: How did you feel during playtime? How were you friendly/silly/curious today? How did you solve a problem today?
Get your preschooler to open up by being fun or silly.
“Today, I wished a unicorn would knock on the door. It didn’t happen, but I did get a fun package. What silly thing did you wish for today?”
“I’m sure you did nothing today! You sat on the floor and stared at the wall, right?” If your child is in a playful mood, this might prompt responses like, “Noooo! I played with Emma! We were firefighters and we saved all the ponies!”
Take Your Time
Some kids are ready to share all the details of their day as soon as they get in the car, but some kids need time to decompress. And even chatty kids will have days when they need some time.
Gauge your child’s engagement, and if they need some time, wait. Try again when you’re both eating a snack together, driving to an after-school activity, eating dinner, or going to bed.
Get Your Preschooler to Open up by Showing How It’s Done
Start your conversation by sharing about your own day. Think of moments in your day that are relatable to your child’s day.
For example, “I had an orange for a snack.” Or, “I had a good time talking with my best friend today.” Or, “I felt frustrated today, and I helped myself feel better by taking deep breaths.”
Sometimes your child might take your cue, and offer up a similar tidbit from their day. Or you can then ask your child a similar question. “What did you have for snack today? What did you do with your friend today?”
Change the Scenery
Pay attention to when — and where — your child opens up about their day. If they clam up in the car, they may still be decompressing. Or they may be distracted by what they see outside. Try asking about your child’s day at a more calm time, like at bedtime.
If they can’t answer your questions face-to-face at dinner time, they may prefer talking when you’re doing a side-by-side activity, like putting together a puzzle or going for a walk.
15 Questions to Get Your Preschooler to Open up After School
Add a few of these questions to your rotation, and see how it goes!
- What did your teacher say to you today?
- Who did you spend the most time with today?
- What was the best thing you did outside?
- What was the hardest thing you did inside?
- Why was (fill in the blank from their answer) so fun/hard?
- Where is your favorite place at preschool?
- What did you have for snack?
- Sing me a song your learned today.
- What was the worst thing that happened today?
- What made you smile today?
- Show me your artwork. Tell me about it.
- What made you laugh today?
- Show me something you did in your creative movement class.
- Tell me about something that made you sad today.
- Tell me about something you learned today.
At UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper, Utah, we enjoy full days of learning, exploration, and fun. To learn more about how we teach music, art, reading, math, science, creative movement, social studies, and so much more, contact us online or give us a call at (801) 523-5930.