Blog posts that provide encouragement for marriage and family success.

How to Engage Kids After School

I'm sure you've lived this reality...your child gets in the car and pulls out his/her phone. You rush to ask about his day. "It was fine.," he replies. You try to dig deeper. "Did anything fun happen?" "Nope." Maybe you shoot for practical - "Do you have any homework?" My (least) favorite response to this is, "I don't know." I'll be honest, I'm not sure how that can possibly be, but that's a different post!

The fact is, our kids are tired after a long day at school. They really don't want to talk to us any more than we want to talk after a long day at work. Here are some quick tips for how to engage kids after school:

  • Sound enthusiastic when you greet them. I know it may seem silly, but this goes a long way toward kids wanting to talk to parents. If we don't sound like we want to be with them, they have no desire to talk.

  • Start soft..."How was your day" is okay. I usually start here. Another option is, "What was the best part of your day?" It's okay if that was lunch or PE. The goal is getting an answer. Open-ended tends to be best but if you're not getting anywhere, go for yes/no questions.

  • Give him/her time to settle in. They may get their phone out. Sometimes my son just zones out for a few minutes. That's okay.

  • You can always play, "high," "low," "betcha didn't know." This is where the child has to share something good, something bad, and something we couldn't guess. I don't recommend it every day as it can get rote.

  • Sometimes I ask if anything exciting happened. This is usually when I found out about kids who got in trouble.

  • If they answer your questions, listen to the answers. Then follow up. These are good questions for kids:

  • Why did she do that?

  • What happened next?

  • What did you think of that?

  • Who did that?

  • Where was he when that happened?

  • When will _______ happen?

  • How will you know if ________?

  • Keep in mind that right after school is generally NOT the time for a teachable moment. Just listen. File away topics you may need to address later.

  • If there's time, do something fun. Ice cream is always a big hit in our family.

  • Let them be. Sometimes just letting our kids unwind a bit is the best engagement we can offer. if I can tell my son had a bad day and just wants to play on his phone a bit, I'll put in an audio book or turn on the radio and we don't talk.

This is just a quick list of some engagement ideas for the after school drive home. What techniques work for you?

With love,

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