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How was school today

Featured on the Hong Kong Economic Journal (November 1, 2018)

One question that seems to pose annoyance to both the question asker and the question answerer is ‘how was school today?’. Countless children have told me how that question annoys them because they get asked it every day and when they give the answer ‘fine’, it doesn’t seem to satisfy the curiosity of their parents.

Parents of children of any age are desperate to know what happened during the 8 hours that their child was at school. My son is only 2 years old now and going to school for a little more than 2 hours and already I’m desperate to know everything that happens during that short period of time. Even more so for parents who have children in school for longer and are able to articulate what happened. What did you learn? Who did you spend time with? What did you eat for lunch? Basically all those questions are usually encompassed in the question “how was school today?”

But the problem is – children don’t have a lot to say to that question! School seems relatively similar to them each day and when asked such a generic question, it seems fitting for them to give a generic answer of ‘fine’. Then they don’t understand why their answer won’t suffice. Their teachers were the same as the day before, their classrooms were the same, their school meals probably didn’t taste much better than the day before and they played with the same friends. So all in all, the day was ‘fine’. But parents want to know so much more.

So, just this past week, I had a student share his frustration on this and so we brainstormed a list of questions that parents could ask instead. I also add to his list of ideas of what parents could ask their children and roughly arranged for children from young to old:

  1. What did you do during recess today?