5 Ways to Help Your Child Answer What They Did at School Today

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As a speech-language pathologist, one of the most common concerns I hear from parents is that their child can’t tell them about their day. This is a hard question for so many kids. To be able to talk about their day, a child needs to be able to comprehend the qestion, recall events from the day, use storytelling language, use sequencing skills, and probably recognize and understand the emotions they felt through the day.

Unless there was an exciting assembly or new event that happened, in preschool “I played” is usually an OK response. As parents, we so desperately want to hear what happened during the day and share in their joy or support their tough times. But when all they say is, “I don’t know” “Nothing” or “I played” we understandably may feel a bit frustrated. If you want to help your child develop this skill, follow these 5 tips:

1. Make the question predictable. Ask every night at dinner. Many children may begin preparing their answers if they know the question is coming.

2. Model. Start with siblings and spouses first.

3. Include your daily routine in the retelling of your day. When you do this, your child can begin to build connections between what they observe and what you tell in your story. This helps them identify what is important and gives them ideas as to what they can include in their retell.

4. Practice with pictures. If you have a particularly exciting day, snap photos. Then, sit with them and your camera roll and help them scroll through and talk about each picture.

5. Ask specific rather than broad questions to guide their thinking. Instead of “Tell me about your day,” you can ask “Who did you sit with at lunch?” “What story did you read today?” Get information from teachers on your child’s day if you can to ask even more pointed questions, and then you can model responses if your child still comes up short.

If your child is struggling with vocabulary, sentence construction, or answering questions, they may not be ready for this skill yet or professional help might be needed.

Janine Segner is a credentialed speech therapist with a decade of experience in school, outpatient medical and private practice settings. She is licensed in Virgnia and Maryland and is the owner of Expressive Speech and Feeding, a pediatric speech therapy practice in Herndon, Virginia.

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