I usually fail at this, but in my year of taking my son to school there are a few things I've noticed that seem to increase him telling me about his school day.
1. Give Them the Option
When my son gets in the car I often say, "Is there anything you want to tell me about your day? You don't have to tell me anything." He often declines the offer. But when he does share, not only does it feel unforced, but it lets me know what types of things he actually wants to talk about. I also like that it puts the onus on him to speak, while he also has the power not to.
I could be wrong about this, but I feel like when my son and I walk or bike home from school, he talks more. It sort of makes sense; instead of him spacing off in the quickly moving environs of the car backseat, the energy probably gets him going. I should admit that the sample size is a little low though. We biked until it started raining. And I live in Oregon. He told me a lot those seven days.
3. Try To Find What They Want to Talk About
Easier said then done, right? But it's true. I know from working with middle school students, if I want them to talk, I ask them about their interests. I inquire about the sports they like or the video games they play (yawn) or let them complain about the particulars of their day. There is no back and forth with this conversation; it's just me coming up with ways for them to talk. I can't totally bring myself to fully practice this with my own child, but it's still a good thing to think about. If I really want my son to talk, I should find the details of his day that he would want to elaborate on, whether they have any educational connections at all.
I probably shouldn't do this, but I do find myself asking my son who misbehaved that day. Sometimes he even does impressions of his teacher disciplining the miscreant at dinner. (Karma alert! This has probably happened to me. That is such a horrifying thought that I'm just going to pretend that no student ever brought this up at the dinner table.)
5. It Depends on the Kid
This might seem obvious, but it's always important to keep in mind. Some kids (like my daughter) love to talk about their day and some kids don't. If your kid is or isn't telling you anything, it might have nothing to do with you. More importantly though, different kids react to different prompts. The questioning method totally works with my daughter. Since she wants to tell me about her day, it gives her ideas of what to talk about. With my son I'm basically looking for one question that will get him going, then I kind of sit back. If I ask him anything specific, it seems to throw him off.
So that's what I've found out this year. Is there anything you've found that works to get your kid to elaborate about their day?