16/09/2009 04:44 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

How To Find Out What Your Child Did At School Today

If your child has recently started school, you're probably desperate to know how they've spent their day. What did they learn? Was the teacher nice? Did they make friends with anybody new, or do any fun games at play time?

Yes so often, children are unwilling to give up the gossip. They answer every question with a grunt, or if you're lucky, they'll begrudgingly admit to doing "Stuff".

But there are ways around this. Here are some tips on how to talk so your kids will listen, and listen so your kids will talk.

  • Children often respond to specific, closed questions better than general questions. So asking What was the best thing that happened at school today? is better than a more general Did you have a good day? The first question asks them to focus on something specific, which is easier for the child to do.
  • Kids also often like to talk about other people's misdemeanours, so although it's not the nicest question, you will probably get quite an animated response to Was anybody naughty in your class today?
  • Even though you may be desperate to know how their day went, try not to bombard your child with questions as soon as they come out of school. They are probably quite tired and hungry and often not in the mood to chat. When I pick up my six year old son, we often don't say much at all until he's had a snack and we are a fair way from school. Often you will get a better response if you wait until the child is ready to talk, rather than when you are ready to question.
  • Children will often open up in quiet moments when they are doing other things, so make a point to carve out those quiet times.Sit down and do some Lego or comb your daughter's hair or paint her toenails. I've had some great chats with my kids when I've been (brace yourself) combing their hair for nits!
  • Take an interest in the things they like. My daughter asked if I would read the Harry Potter books, as she was so obsessed with them and wanted to talk to me about them. So I did, and although it took a while, it was quite enjoyable and gave us some common ground that we wouldn't other wise have had.
  • Be fully engaged when you're talking to them. No half an eye on your emails or text messages. Give them the courtesy of your full attention and they may reward you with the same.

What do you find works best when you're trying to get your child to talk to you?