Now that school is in full swing, what are some of the things we want to know about our kids and how they’re adjusting?
- Are you happy there?
- Do you like your classmates?
- Are your teachers helpful?
- Is anyone being unkind to you?
- Do you feel like you are getting help when you need it?
- Do you have friends to talk with or someone to play with at recess?
- Are you lonely?
- Is there something you want to talk about but are afraid or don’t know how?
The list goes on. We worry about our kids. We want to know about their day. It’s normal. But, learning how to talk with our children as they get older is a skill. It’s not easy. Watch the interaction between your child and someone who hasn’t seen them in a while. What’s the first thing they ask after they comment on growth… ”How’s School?”. Point blank asking a child about school or how their day went is a conversation killer. The younger kids will likely ignore you and move onto something else. The older ones just say “Good” or “Fine” and that’s the end of the conversation.
Asking open-ended questions is the key to establishing meaningful conversation regardless of age. The most important thing to remember is to listen. Once your child starts talking, hold off on more questions until they are finished. You never know what you may learn if you give them the time to gather their thoughts and are open to what you receive.
Here are some ideas to get you started.
“Tell me about the game you played at recess today.”
“That’s a beautiful picture of a rainbow. Tell me about it.”
“I wonder what was your favorite part of the day?”
“What’s the funniest thing that happened today?”
“If I was your teacher tomorrow, what would you want me to teach you?”
“Who was your favorite person that you talked with today?”
“Did you use your markers today? What for?”
“What are some rules at school that are the same as home?”
“What is something from home that you wish you had at school?”
“What didn’t you have for today that you’d like to have tomorrow?”
“When were you bored today?”
“If an alien came to take somebody to another planet, who would it be?”
Know your child’s school schedule so you can ask about particulars
“What did you find at the library?”
“How did you decide what books to choose?”
“How did you decide what to draw?”
“Why did you choose that country/animal/person for your project?”
“If you could change one thing about your schedule, what would it be?”
“If you could change seats with anyone in class, who would it be and why?”
“If you switched places with your science teacher tomorrow, what would you teach the class?”
“If you could change one thing about your day, what would it be?”
Model what sharing information and communication looks like
“I had a wonderful day today. I talked with Grandma about going to the apple orchard.”
“I had a fun day. I met a new friend and we went for coffee.”
Take advantage of lingering bedtimes
After the books are read, teeth brushed, and lights almost out, listen to the conversation that may begin. This is sometimes the best time to hear about what took place during the day. It takes some kids a bit to wind down and get comfortable.