For some reason when you ask about school, they turn into mutes. Here are five tricks to get more from your dinner table queries.

1. Make sure you phrase it right

Skip any questions that can be answered with a simple “yes” or a “no”  like,“Did you have a good day at school today?” Instead ask her something she has to elaborate on in order to answer: “What game did you play at recess today?” or “What did you decide to draw in art?” What were your three favorite things you did today?

2. Utilize the ‘artifacts’ of their day
Start with something you know happened—open your kid’s backpack and ask about what’s in there. A drawing of elephants can spawn a conversation about a zoo assignment. A new book can open up a conversation about library time that day.

3. Make sure the time is right
Sometimes it’s all about timing—and it’s not the same for all kids. For some, the ride home from school may be the best time to open up about their day since it’s so fresh in their minds. For others, it’s the worst time—since they’re unifocal on getting a snack, or convincing you to take them to the park. Try bathtime, when your kid is relaxed and able to concentrate on your questions more easily. Or bedtime: use the fact that they’re looking for an excuse to stay up another five minutes as a way to chat them up.

4. Start a habit
Setting up the expectation that every night at dinner mom’s going to ask about the three best parts of their day, can help them get used to the idea of your questions. You should share too: “Today, on the ride to work I saw a bunny by the side of the road, just hanging out!” (Talking about something you know they’ll find irresistible helps.) When they hear you do it, they’ll be more inclined to “be next.”

5. Listen
Yes, we know it sounds obvious, but sometimes it’s not. Try not to interrupt your kids with questions when they’re trying to share with you; it could cause them to lose their train of thought or their interest in the conversation. Even if your kid veers off on a completely unrelated tangent, allow him to keep chatting away—and refocus with your next question. (Cause yes, we know you have more.)


What's your dinner routine? Tell us how you engage with the kids in the comments below!