I admit that I sometimes let my preschooler ramble on about things that are a bit nonsensical. I find myself saying, "Yes, mmm hmmm," even though one minute he's talking about a lesson at school, and the next he is on an airplane to Florida. Sometimes, we have to do what is needed to survive (and get dinner ready).
But as much as possible, when I have asked him a question like, "Tell me one thing you enjoyed doing at school today," I stop what I am doing to listen. By asking follow up questions such as, "Who was there?" "Tell me more about that," or "Why did....," I encourage him to complete a story or thought, from beginning to end. I have noticed that when I give him my full attention in this way, my son realizes this is a *real* story and works hard to recall details, and help me understand what it is he wants to share with me. And, by engaging in our kids' stories in this way, we also show them the importance of actively listening to those we love.
Do you do something similar with your kids? What works for your family?