Most parents know that asking “How was your day?” is unlikely to actually get kids talking about their days in a meaningful way. The kind of information we really want — whether they learned something new, had trouble with a friend, triumphed or failed — is usually hard to get from a tired kid at the end of a long school day. But it’s tricky to figure out what questions to ask without seeming like we’re pestering or nagging. What are some good alternatives to “How was your day?”
The Family Dinner Project has been working on alternatives to “How was your day?” for over a decade now. We’ve got lots of different conversation starters you can try, on a variety of topics. We’ve even got a short list of alternatives you can use with other adults, since kids aren’t the only people who might be reluctant to talk after a long day. Now, we’ve compiled a master list of 100 Alternatives to “How Was Your Day?” to help families get the real scoop on school and work.
In this printable list, you’ll find:
Alternatives to “How Was Your Day?” for Preschoolers
Even the littlest kids might need a good question to get them talking! There are lots of little-kid-friendly questions on the list, but we’ve also created a one-page resource just for this age group. Try asking questions like:
- If you drew a picture of your day, what colors would you use?
- If I watched you play at recess today, what would I have seen?
- What’s one way someone helped you today?
Ideas for Elementary Kids
On a big list of 100 questions, there are plenty that will work for elementary-aged kids. Which ones work best for your family will depend on your individual child’s age, maturity, and personality. You can try a mix of question types, like:
- If you were writing an article about your day, what would the headline be?
- What’s one thing about today you wish you could do over?
- What’s one thing you learned today you think I might not know?
- If a movie was made about your life, would you include anything that happened today? Why or why not?
- Who was the most fun person you encountered today? How about the least fun?
- What made you smile today? Tell me about it.
Questions for Teens and Tweens
As kids grow into middle and high school, it can be even harder to get them talking. You might need to try strategies like starting with a story about your own day, or asking for their advice. You can also tap into interests like music and video games to frame questions that engage them. Try questions like these:
- If you had a photo album of all the moments from your day, what would the top 5 photos include?
- If today were a book/movie/TV show/video game, what book, show, movie, or game would it be?
- Have you made anything cool or beautiful this week?
- If you could choose a playlist to represent today, what would be on it?
- What’s one thing you learned about today that you’d like to be able to go deeper on?
- Something happened to me today that I want to tell you about. What would you have done when….?
Alternatives for Adults
Lots of questions that work well for teens can also work well for adults. In fact, it might be fun to try some more imaginative questions to get out of a grown-up conversational rut! Questions that get at work, passions, interests, and legacy can be especially good for asking adults about the day. Try starting conversations with:
- Did you collaborate with anyone today on a project or idea? How was it to work with them?
- Today, I thought of you when….
- Did you read or hear anything today that made you really stop and think?
- When you look back on this year in the future, will anything about today be memorable to you?
- What’s one thing you saw today that you’d like to be able to fix?
- I know you were struggling with _____ yesterday. How did that go today?
- Tell me about one person who was a bright light for you this week.
This is just a short list of examples that might help you get past one-word answers at the end of the day. Make sure to click through to the full printable list for many more ideas, so you never feel stuck at “How was your day?” again!