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Use Open Ended Questions to Get Your Kids Talking After School

Updated on June 27, 2011

Using open ended questions for children is a great way to get them talking after school. Although their natural inclination is to offer up a standard yes or no answer, you can get a lot more information with open ended questions. Examples can be found online or with prepackaged sets of questions such as Table Topics, found at specialty boutique stores or online. Having a good supply of open ended questions to ask children can go a long way toward opening up long term, meaningful communication between adults and children.

Click here for a list of open ended questions.

Open Ended Questions Open Up Dialogue

Whether your children are in Kindergarten or high school, the more you can get them to interact with you, rather than just provide information, the better your communication will be. While there are times you need a quick answer, more often you can use common open ended questions to really understand the way your child thinks—not to mention deeper insight into his or her dominant personality traits.

Closed questions require a one or two-word response or even as little as a nod of the head. They can also be the type that are elicit right or wrong answers, making kids feel as if they're being quizzed.

Examples of closed questions:

  • What did you eat for lunch today?
  • Do you have homework?
  • Who did you play with at recess/sit with at lunch?

Open-ended invite kids to imagine, elaborate, and tell stories. You'll get more information and get to know your child better when you ask open-ended questions. They let children think and solve problems. Here are some examples:

  • What do you think of standardized testing?
  • If you were the teacher, how would you explain algebra/gravity/nouns?
  • If you were the principal of your school, what would you do first?

Examples of Open Ended Questions for Children

Use the following to get you started with open-ended questions. Examples here are just a suggestion. They give you an idea of how to structure any kind of question to illicit a substantive response.

Examples of open ended questions children will actually want to answer:

  • What do you think are the characteristics that make a good teacher?
  • If you could redesign your whole school, what would it look like?
  • Tell me about something I never knew you did last week.

For more samples of open ended questions see the article, Top 50 Open Ended Questions For Sparking Conversation With Kids.

Image Credit: chefranden, Flickr


Submit a Comment

  • wheelinallover profile image

    Dennis Thorgesen 6 years ago from Central United States

    I really need to start using open ended questions to go along with the everything is a game which I use with the children who live here. With the how was school today question, a tongue hanging out is about all the answer I get. LOL I am not a parent here just the one who takes care of the children while mom works and dad does his thing.

  • Victoria Stephens profile image

    Victoria Stephens 7 years ago from London

    It can be really hard to get the kids talking when they come back from anywhere unless it was so amazing to them that they are bursting at the seams, so this is great. Nice hub.x

  • Dolores Monet profile image

    Dolores Monet 7 years ago from East Coast, United States

    Great way to start an actual conversation with your child. I know it it hard to resist the boring old 'how was school today,' question that goes nowhere.

  • Ms Chievous profile image

    Tina 7 years ago from Wv

    Good Hub! I like the tell me something I never knew you did last week question.. I will use it soon!