Go Ask Mom

Go Ask Mom

Learn, Love, Laugh: Why these three words encourage kids to open up about their school day

Posted August 24

"How was school?"

It's a simple, open-ended question - a conversation starter that most parents ask after a long day at school. The answer? If your kids are like most kids, this response is typical: "Fine."

The test? "Fine." Your friends? "Fine." Lunch? "Fine." The alien starship that landed outside the office door? "Fine."

Sometimes I throw in an off-the-wall question to see if they are actually listening.

I get it. After a hard day at school, where kids are faced with the pressures of school work, teacher expectations, peer pressures and social media hassles, they're exhausted. They just want to curl up and take a break from the constant questions. And now, their mom or dad come at them with another one.

So, after a few years of getting those monosyllabic responses (and hearing from Michelle Icard, Charlotte mom and middle school expert, on the topic), I came up with a new strategy.

No longer do I ask, "How was school?," as soon as they walk through the door.

These days, when I greet my kids after a long day at school, I give them some space. And, later, in the evening, I ask them this trio of questions:

  • What's a favorite thing you learned today?
  • What's something you loved doing today?
  • What made you laugh today?

Learn. Love. Laugh. I don't expect them to answer all three - though they can if they'd like. (And my grade schooler is pretty effusive in her descriptions of the day when the right questions are asked). But, if they just want to share one - a new favorite fact learned, a science experiment they loved so much they want to try it again, a joke from a friend that made them laugh - that's fine.

It always amazes me how these three simple words have opened the door to conversations and teeny glimpses into their day. In fact, together, we've learned that often the most important parts of the day are fleeting - a silly joke from a teacher, a moment between good friends, that "aha" when you finally understand that math problem. And, when they share, I share my own learn, love and laugh moments of the day.

I don't ask it every day, but I've asked it enough that I can just say "learn, love and laugh" and my kids know what I mean. Sometimes it gets an eye roll (most often from my middle schooler). It always gets an answer.

Sarah is the mom of two and Go Ask Mom's editor.


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