Childhood amnesia? Or just the wrong question?

October 2017

‘How was your day at school today?’ or ‘What did you do today?’ are questions posed by so many parents in the car on the way home from school. For many children, the standard response is: ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I can’t remember!’ A typical day at Froebelian is jam-packed with exciting lessons, thought-provoking assemblies and fun activities. Every day should be memorable in some way or another!

So why can’t they remember? The problem is not the child’s capacity to recall the events of their day. The problem is often that the question is too generic.

By asking more precise questions, the child has to zone in on a particular element of their day and provide a specific answer. It’s also important to give the children some thinking time. Typically, when we ask a question, only a few seconds go by before an answer is expected. Children need a little time to reflect on their day and process the question you have asked before they can come up with a response. Try giving them ten seconds before they reply – this makes them work harder at giving an answer.

Make sure your focus is on the good stuff. Through your questions, actively seek out the positive behaviours you want to promote to your child such as sharing, politeness, helpfulness, kindness, honesty, determination and co-operation. By encouraging positive dialogue about your day, you will reaffirm with your child that school is a happy and nurturing environment. Focus on what your child has done well and celebrate it, rather than spending time on what another child in the class might have done or said.

Next time you’re in the car going home, why not try one of these suggested conversation starters?

  1. What was the best thing that happened at school today?
  2. Tell me something that made you laugh today.
  3. Tell me about new word that you heard today. What does it mean?
  4. What did you have to try especially hard with today?
  5. Tell me about three different times you used your pen/pencil today at school.
  6. If I phoned your teacher tonight, what would she tell me about your day?
  7. How did you help somebody today?
  8. How did somebody help you today?
  9. Tell me one thing that you learned today.
  10. When were you the happiest today?
  11. Tell me something good that happened today.
  12. How have you demonstrated this week’s ethos theme today?
  13. What do you think you should do/learn more of at school?
  14. Who in your class do you think you could be nicer to?
  15. Who do you play with the most at break times?
  16. Who is the funniest person in your class? Why is he/she so funny?
  17. What was your favourite part of lunch?
  18. If you got to be the teacher tomorrow, what would you do?
  19. If you could switch seats with anyone in the class, who would you trade with? Why?
  20. Which Froebelian Flyer have you tried to be today?