How to Get Your Child to (actually) Talk About Their School Day
For many parents, getting their child to talk about their school day can be a challenging task. You may find more often than not that you get the "good", "fine", or the dreadful "I don't remember" So, how can a parent help their child be more open and forthcoming, without making them feel overwhelmed, when talking about their school day?
For some children, talking about their school day comes easy. You may find that your child loves sharing every single detail about what happened at school (sometimes more than you want to hear). In fact, you may not even have to ask questions, since these children may willingly share the minute you pick them up from school. On the other hand, you may have a child that is on the quieter side or is very private. For these children, it is important that you take a softer approach so that they don't become overwhelmed with questions and shut down altogether.
Here are a few strategies to start the dialogue if your child struggles to open up about their day:
1) Strive to keep questions simple and light at first rather than starting with heavier topics such as bullying, anxiety, or fears about school.
2) Ask open-ended questions.
Example: What was the best part of recess today?
3) Start with a factual observation rather than a question that is out-of-the-blue.
Example: “I know that everyone is having to wear masks this year. What's that like for you?
4) Share something about yourself to see what you get back.
Example: When I was in school, everyone loved playing kickball at recess. What do you and your friends like to play?
5) Avoid asking negative questions when you are concerned something may not be going well for your child.
Example: I heard that you were partnered up with ________ today for a History project. How did the two of you decide on the topic?
6) Phrase questions in a way that invites your child to share without expecting long, detailed answers. Check out this link for examples of how you can rephrase questions.
7) Timing is everything. When you discuss your child's day at a time that feels more natural, like in the car or at dinner, your child will likely feel more comfortable opening up. Also, it is helpful to do it during a time where it doesn't feel rushed and you have your child's attention (I made the mistake of talking to my 5 year old son about school when he was in the middle of his favorite tv show. I quickly received the "mom, leave me alone. I don't want to talk to you" look.)
8) Pay attention to your child's developmental level. How you start a conversation with your preschooler about his/her day is MUCH different than how you start a conversation with your teen.
Check out Today's Parent for tips based on your child's age.
Check out this sample of questions to help you get started. Print a copy of this handout and place it on your refrigerator or take a picture of it and save it to your phone.
Learning about your child’s school day should not be a burden—it should be enjoyable and enlightening. With practice and consistency, you can make it so.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact me at email@example.com if you have questions and/or concerns about your child's social and/or emotional well-being.