How to Get Kids to (Really) Talk About Their School Day
I have taught in schools for almost 20 years, so I have worked with hundreds of students and parents. During these two decades, parents reached out to me often because they struggled to find out details about their children’s school day. “How do I get him or her to open up?” they would ask.
Now, thanks to what I have learned as a teacher, I have a child who happily discusses his school day. I feel comfortable that my wife and I have created a foundation of transparency that will benefit my daughter even as she reaches her difficult teenage years. Here’s how to get valuable insight into your child’s school life by getting them to talk.
Start early and often
What I mean? Well, kids go to school earlier and earlier these days. My daughter went to kindergarten at the age of 2. There is no reason these conversations cannot start once your child begins their academic journey.
Don’t just say, “How was your day?” This can be answered in one word. Ask questions that require details and thought, and show interest on your part. At first I asked my daughter simple yes or no questions to get her interested, and then I asked more detailed questions. I asked about art projects or books being read in class, or about interacting with classmates. Not only did it help my wife and me learn more about our daughter’s day, but it also helped our child learn to recap the most memorable moments and gain comfort in discussing what mattered to her.
If your child is older, it’s not too late. See the next tip.
Do your homework
Your child is not the only one to do the homework. We parents also need to work. My daughter’s school sends out a short email weekly with details about the week. If your child’s school is doing the same, read the executive summary – you may find things you didn’t know your child was working on. Ask them about it. Learn the names of your child’s teachers and classmates and refer to them by name. Take detailed notes at curriculum evenings and parent-teacher meetings. I’ll even look at the school menu to see what the kids eat for lunch every day. With this information at your disposal, it will be easier for you to formulate questions for your child.
If your child is not attending primary school, make sure you actually learn about their interests, perhaps by talking to a class teacher or counselor. You will be surprised how many parents I spoke with were surprised to learn of their child’s secret passion. Once you’ve found these interests, do your homework! Read articles or books on the topic, be it makeup tutorials or music writing. Bring enthusiasm to your questions. If you are genuinely interested, they are more likely to open up.
Use the morning
Morning is a great time to talk to your child to find out what might happen during the school day. Consider breakfast or a trip to school as time to see what your child can do in class. This is also a good time to discuss lunch strategies and healthy eating habits. In the evenings, it is often problematic as many parents return home and the children are resting or doing their homework.
Set goals and statements
My daughter and I discuss the goals that she should achieve in life and school. With these goals in mind, we created daily affirmations that we repeat each day on our way to school. I remind her to have a good day at school. “Learn a lot. Be polite and kind. To ask questions. Be bold. Take challenges. Be brave. But most importantly, have fun! “
When I pick her up at the end of the school day, I use these statements as a way to discuss her school day. What were your activities today? What new, exciting and fun things have you learned? What good deeds have you done? What problems are you facing? How brave were you? What did you do during recess and with whom? Have you given or received a compliment today? These questions interested my daughter so positively. She often jumps into my arms to answer one of these daily questions in advance. It is clear that she thought about what she would like to share during the day. What he also does is fair expectations. She doesn’t always achieve her goals on a particular day, and that’s okay. She will run into problems, and that’s okay. You want your child to feel like they can share good and bad and be supported at all times.
Information about your child’s school day shouldn’t be a burden – it should be enjoyable and rewarding. With practice and consistency, you can achieve this.