Help the conversation get beyond ‘nothing’

October 14, 2012 | Posted in: Early Learners, Elementary, High School, Middle Years | with 0 Comments

Chances are you’ve had this conversation:

You: How was your day at school?

Your child: Good (or other uninformative one-word answer)

You: What did you do at school today?

Your child: Ummmmm…. Nothing.

Whether your child is 4 or 14, you’re likely curious about what happens in the course of their day at school. Get your child talking by asking specific, concrete questions – ones that require more than “yes” or “no” as an answer. Not only do you find out how their day was, they learn that you care enough to ask.

Here are some questions to get you started with your young learner:

What was your favorite part of school today? Learn about your child’s interests by asking this question each day.

Who did you sit next to at circle time/snack/lunch today? Learn about your child’s friendships by posing a question about who they spend time with each day.

What book did your teacher read at school today? If your child can’t remember the title of the book, you can ask questions about what happened in the story or if he liked it.

Did you have a job at school today? Preschools often give each child a job such as “weather person” or “snack helper.” Follow up this question with another about what his/her favorite job is, and why they like it.

What was today’s letter? If your child has a letter of the day or week, ask what words they learned that start with that letter. Look around the house for other examples of things that start with that letter to reinforce their lesson at home.

What did you play with during recess? Follow this with a “who” question, which will again give you a peek at their friendships.

Was anyone silly at school today? Sometimes the most memorable moment of the day was the behavior of a classmate. Whether someone did something funny or got in trouble, it opens up the opportunity for additional conversation.

Will you tell me about the project you brought home? Look at the picture or other craft your child brought home. Talk about colors, shapes and letters, and what their favorite part of doing the project was. Hang it on the wall for all to enjoy – and to build your young artist’s/student’s self-esteem.

Did anything happen at school today that you didn’t like? This gives your child the opportunity to share something they may be struggling with, such as a friend who was sad or a classmate who got in trouble. You can then use it as an opportunity to talk about things such as how to treat other people or why there are school rules.

Would you like to play school? Let your child be the teacher and you be the student. You may get some perspective on how they view school or the teacher. Just be sure you’re ready to play “weather person” or raise your hand in circle time!

Remember: When you ask questions, be ready to listen, listen, listen! If your child is quiet for a moment, allow the pause to give them a chance to add another detail rather than jumping right in with another question.

For more reading on this topic, visit online at Parents Choice

From PBS.org: Understanding each other

Some tips for those with older children Talking with your children about school

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