Inside: Use this free printable first day of school questionnaire to interview your kids every year. Later, you’ll have a collection of amazing snapshots.
My oldest daughter Abby started kindergarten this week.
I thought since she was already going to preschool every day, kindergarten wouldn’t be a big deal.
At her preschool, the kids are free to play pretty much what they want all day. Every feeling is validated by the teachers. The kids are empowered and encouraged to resolve conflicts on their own. Not a whole lot of structure and arbitrary rules.
It’s ALL structure and arbitrary rules.
How else could one adult possibly keep a roomful of 20 five-year-olds from going rogue and kicking off their very own Occupy Monkey Bars movement?
How the First Day Went
“C’mere,” I said, and I pulled her onto my lap. I realized I haven’t had that girl on my lap since well before Bailey was born, when I had no lap to speak of. My throat felt a little tight.
“Was it hard today?” I asked.
She looked up at me with those big blue eyes. I had a flash of her as a baby, those eyes taking everything in, always.
“A lot to learn?” I asked.
She nodded and sat up straight. “Yeah, like you have to sit down in the swing. You just have to sit down. You can’t even do anything else. Like you can’t swing on your stomach. It doesn’t make sense!”
She couldn’t wrap her head around the idea that a rule like this would exist in the world.
So we talked about how some kids just act wild and the teachers need to make rules to keep the wild in check. And everyone has to follow the same rules.
She got it, I think.
Related: The Best 10-Minute Fix to Spending Quality Time With Kids (Printable)
What I Didn’t Expect
Later that night, while Abby was in the bath, I sat on the floor with our 3-month-old waiting for her to roll over – her latest new trick.
She wasn’t in the mood. She stared up at me.
Big blue eyes, just like her sister.
I scooped up the baby and ran to the bathtub.
Abby looked up. “What?”
“I just wanted to see you,” I said. “Make sure you were okay.”
She stared at me for a second then went back to her bathtub toys. From what I gathered, the purple octopus had just invited the orange crab to a princess tea party.
I stood there, holding Bailey. Was Abby really that little once? I mean, I know she was.
But how is it possible that a tiny thing who couldn’t even ROLL OVER went and grew up into a 5-year-old who has her own feelings and thoughts and opinions? Like A LOT of opinions.
How does that happen?
I Bet You’ve Heard This Before
Everyone says “Enjoy it now, they grow up so fast!”
And you just smile and nod and think to yourself “Shut your damn face.” Because THEY are getting 8 hours of sleep a night, and THEY don’t have to wipe anyone’s butt 10 times a day, and THEY didn’t just reach up to tuck their hair behind their ear and find a gob of dried, crusty mashed sweet potato.
But the contrast of having a newborn at the same time that another child is starting kindergarten finally brought that stupid cliche home for me.
I have this newfound urgency to capture every moment of the girls’ childhood. How Bailey sucks her toes, that Abby grew a full inch this August, how when her baby sister is fussing Abby sings these made-up songs to calm her down that make absolutely zero sense and they’re totally off-key but 100% beautiful.
So when I saw this cute Q&A for the first day of school, I was sold.
The idea is you interview your kids every year on the first day of school. Then after a few years, you have a collection of these amazing snapshots to look back on.
The only problem? I realized I should be asking different questions.
Not the typical questions like “What’s your favorite subject?” But powerful questions like “When do you feel the most loved?” and “What are you afraid of?” and “What is the meaning of life?”
The Best First Day of School Questionnaire With 20 Powerful Questions
I made a new first day of school questionnaire – a hodgepodge of the cute Q&A sheets and the juicy questions. (Thanks to Amy at Positively Splendid and Amber at Illustrated With Crappy Pictures for the inspiration.)
To download a free printable of this first day of school questionnaire, scroll to the download instructions below the photo. Don’t worry if your kid is in seventh grade and you haven’t done this ever before. It’s never too late to start. (Note: Starting with seventh grade, I changed the colors and formatting to make the sheets look a teensy bit more grown-up compared to the other sheets.)
Here are the questions from the second page:
- What’s one thing you want to do this year?
- What brings you the most happiness?
- What are you afraid of?
- What makes you mad?
- When do you feel the most loved?
- If you had one wish, what would you wish for?
- What is the funniest word?
- What is the hardest thing to do?
- What is the easiest thing to do?
- If you had all the money in the world, what would you do with it?
- What is the meaning of life?
Download Your Free Printable
- Download the first day of school questionnaire. You’ll get the printables, plus join my weekly newsletter! Just click here to download and subscribe. After you enter your email address, this is how you’ll receive your printable:
- You’ll receive an email with a blue download button. This is because the file is too large to attach directly to an email. If you can’t find this email, check your spam folder or the Promotions tab in Gmail.
- When you click the blue download button, it will download a ZIP file to your device where downloaded files are typically saved. Usually this will be a downloads folder associated with your web browser.
- When you double-click the ZIP file, it will decompress into a folder containing several PDF files – one for each grade. (If your device can’t handle ZIP files, you may need to install a free ZIP utility that will decompress files.)
- Print. Any paper will do the trick, but card stock would be ideal.
- Interview your child, write down their adorable answers, and you’re DONE.
Back to the Juicy Stuff
Here are my favorite answers from Abby on the first day of kindergarten.
Even if you don’t fill out the sheets, try asking your kids one or two of the questions and come back to share the best answers!
- My favorite color: Pink and red and rainbow
- My favorite book: Pippi Longstocking
- My favorite thing about myself: My whole body
- When do you feel the most loved? When my family says sweet things about me, like when Mommy says “Bailey, you have an awesome big sister”
- What are you afraid of? The darkness
- What makes you mad? When someone says I broke something
- If you had one wish, what would you wish for? Being a princess
- What is the meaning of life? To eat. Because you have to eat.
Before you go, download my FREE cheat sheet: 75 Positive Phrases Every Child Needs to Hear
Fill out this first day of school questionnaire with your kid, then come share their answers in a comment below!