“How was your day?” is a four word question that can elicit apathy from even the most communicative of children. Contrary to what they say, they do not spend all day at school and do “nothing.”
So what’s a parent to do? According to David Ksanznak, principal of Hamagrael Elementary School (Bethlehem Central School District) in Delmar, NY, try asking specific, but open-ended questions to get that afterschool conversation flowing.
Ksanznak says these daily check-ins are integral because, “it shows children that parents care about them and their education.”
“When parents are involved and show support for their children’s education, great things happen. A school “check-in” can help improve a child’s self-esteem as well as have a positive impact on their academic achievement. The conversation also helps to foster a healthy parent-child relationship.”
Ksanznak notes, while facilitating the conversation, don’t forget to be a good listener as well.
“In my personal experience with my own kids, I’ve found it helps to be an active listener. [Once you ask the question] just let them talk and [you] listen. As tough as it can be, try not to interrupt with follow-up questions before they’re finished.”
“I would also recommend that parents model for their children, sharing something about their day first, before talking to their child about school, said Ksanznak. “For example, what you did for lunch, or if you happened to talk to an old friend or relative, or even something funny that happened.”
The next time you have your child in the backseat or around the dinner table, start with these kind of questions, that can open up into a larger conversation.
1. Got the giggles?
What was something that made you smile or laugh today?
2. Teacher for a day
If you were the teacher tomorrow what would you teach?
3. Way to be!
Did you do something nice for someone today?
4. The Golden Rule
Did someone help you or do something nice for you?
5. Let’s get specific
What was your favorite activity at recess/gym/art today?
6. A fact a day
Share a fun fact you learned today.
One last tip, “be in the know,” says Ksanznak. “As obvious as it sounds, parents should also get to know their child’s schedule – when do they have PE, Art, Music, or Library, so they can ask questions related to those classes and their activities.” It’s one more way to show you not only care, but are aware.
Aubree Kammler is a public information specialist for Capital Region BOCES. She lives in Saratoga County with her 10-month-old son — she is asking open-ended questions after daycare pick-up, but is still only getting one word answers…
Copyright ©2016 by Parent Today and Capital Region BOCES; Used with permission