The opportunity for our children to experience life outside of the home is one of the best parts of sending them to school. Of course their experiences are informative, but they are also social. They are learning what it's like to fit into the school's culture, make friends, form relationships with teachers, and develop as individuals.
As parents, we want to allow our kids to experience these things on their own and in their unique ways, but we also want to know as much as we can about what happens to them while they are away from us. We are interested in learning about the successes they have had, the new things they have discovered, and any challenges they may have faced—especially those that their teachers might not be aware of.
How to Talk with Your Kids About School
Our children tend to be more cautious about their lives and don't provide much information, whether we are talking about our youngest children or our tweens and adolescents. What then, should a parent do? How can we interact with our kids in a positive way, so that they feel at ease opening up and disclosing the wonderful (and not-so-good) parts of their school day?
We simply want to hear firsthand accounts from our children about how their day at school went. But what do parents typically learn in response to their children's simple questions, such as "How was your day?" Crickets!
There are ways to ask questions that will encourage open conversation if you have a child who does not offer conversation on their own. Here are several important considerations.
1. Ask Specific Open-Ended Questions
If you want a short conversation with one-word answers, then ask questions that can be answered with a yes or no. However, if you want your child to open up and have a conversation with you, then you need to ask specific, open-ended questions. Below are a few examples of open-ended questions you can ask.
- What was your favorite thing you did at school today?
- What activities did you do at recess?
- Who did you sit with at lunch today?
- What was the funniest thing that happened today?
- Who is your favorite teacher this year so far?
Asking questions in this way encourages your child to converse with you. But don't anticipate getting a lengthy, in-depth response to every question. The objective is to engage in a lot of brief exchanges over time. Finding relaxed, unhurried times to converse, such as during dinner or while driving, is helpful.
2. Talk About Your Day to Begin the Conversation
Kids are more likely to open up to us if we do the same for them. Tell your child about your day to strike up a casual chat. It will be beneficial to be as detailed as you can be. You can tell them basic things such as your favorite pen broke or that you forgot your coffee.
The more information we give in our conversations with our kids, the more it will help them learn how to talk about their day. We may not realize our children need to be taught how to have conversations. This is not necessarily a skill we are all born with.
3. Begin the Question with Something About Yourself
It's only natural to want to share information about yourself when someone shares it with you. See what you can learn from your child by sharing something about you or your school experience with them.
An example may be, “Oh my goodness! When I was in third grade, my friends and I used to love playing hand-clapping games. What do you and your friends like to do when you are hanging out?”
4. Keep Your Questions Positive
Your questions could seem negative or use strong emotional terms like sad or mean if you believe something isn't going well. Your child may feel more open to communicating worries and struggles when you ask them in a positive and supportive manner. An example may be, “I heard you hung out with new people at recess today. What did you learn about them?
5. When to Stop
Like adults, kids occasionally lack the desire to chat. Knowing when to stop and leave something until another time is crucial. However, if there is an emergency or critical situation, you must ask direct, pointed questions and insist on getting an answer.
More Info on Talking with Your Kids About School
Discussing the school day with your child demonstrates your interest in what is happening in their life. Your child's well-being, happiness, and mental health are all improved by this engagement. Additionally, it may have a very favorable impact on your child's behavior and academic performance. It demonstrates to your kids how much you value learning and education, which inspires them to feel the same way.
Talking about school with your child also enables you to discover more about their learning style, how they approach problems, and what is expected of them in the classroom. When your child is having issues or seems less interested in school, it might help you understand why.
You are more likely to see issues early on if you are aware of how your child feels about school. By doing this, you and your child can work together to overcome obstacles.
Haywood Christian Academy
We at Haywood Christian Academy would love to partner with you to develop students into Christian leaders by providing an excellent educational experience on a foundation of Biblical truth. For more information, schedule a tour here!