The first day of school is in the books for your little guy or girl.

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You’ve prepared them for the day. You dropped them off. Despite much apprehension, no doubt, new friends have been made and new teachers discovered. Now, they’re home.

You ask how school was. You get only answers like “fine,” or “good,” or “OK.” Nothing more. Nothing less.

What do you do to get your kids to have a conversation with you about school? Here are some tips.

1. Take the reporter approach. Ask questions that can’t be answered by simple yes or no. An example of an open-ended question could be something like “tell me about your day.”

The idea is the same as a reporter’s – get your source (in this case, your child) to talk at length. Close-ended questions lend themselves easily to one-word answers. Open-ended questions encourage people to volunteer more information, and they also show more interest on your part in the person with whom you’re speaking.

2. Take note of how they feel and act at home. Are they withdrawn and tight-lipped when they get home? Or do they seem lighthearted and jovial? Note any change in behavior from before school started.

A child who comes home from school quiet and withdrawn may be upset about something. Use open-ended questions like we discussed above to help.

Read between the lines with the words they use. Do they use words conveying negative emotions and images, or do they use positive words? That can tell you a lot about their experience, how they’re feeling, or what they think about school.

3. Ask them what they like about school. We all know it’s easy to focus on the negatives. Asking your child about school in a fashion that gets them to focus on the positives can make them more likely to succeed in school.

4. Did they make any new friends? Asking this can be a great way to not only learn about your children’s friendships with others, but also about how they relate to peers.

Are they being bullied? Are they having trouble fitting in? What things did you endure when you were a kid that were a similar?

Knowing how Mom or Dad responded might help them feel less alone at a time when such emotions could be common – starting a new school, meeting new people, et cetera.

Adjusting to school can be hard on kids. Asking questions to get them to open up not only reminds them that they’re not alone, but they can also strengthen the bond between parent and child.

 

Matt Elliott
Social and Traditional Media Producer
Family & Children’s Services918-560-1141
melliott@fcsok.org