How to Effectively Talk to Your Child About School
‘How was school?’ is a standard question many well-meaning parents ask their kids at the end of the day. Unless something dramatic has happened, the standard response is usually ‘good’ and the conversation moves on to other topics.
The problem with this question is that it’s far too general and doesn’t encourage kids to open up and talk about their experiences at school.
Knowing what’s happening at school fosters emotional connection and shows you’re interested in your child’s life. It demonstrates that you value education, boosting academic achievement, and allows you to address any emerging issues with schoolwork or bullying before they become too serious.
So how can you encourage your child to talk to you about school?
Choose the Right Time
It seems logical to ask your child about their day when you pick them up or when they get home. Many kids, however, are hungry and just want to unwind and recharge after a long day of learning. The last thing they feel like doing is talking about school.
The best time to talk will depend on your child, but it’s vital to choose a moment when they are relaxed and refreshed. This might be at the dinner table, while taking the dog for a walk or watching TV together. Some kids like to decompress by sharing anything that’s on their minds at bedtime. When they’re ready to talk, be sure to give them your full attention and practice active listening.
Talk About Your Own Day
Communication is a two-way street, and if you want your child to open up to you, it’s important that you share your day with them. Model good communication by talking about some of your challenges and frustrations as well as your positive experiences.
Sharing your own day with your child will help them feel closer to you and encourage them to talk about their school life. Make this a regular practice, but don’t push if your child doesn’t feel like talking every day. Like adults, sometimes kids just need some space. If you’ve established trust and good communication, they’ll talk to you about anything important when they’re ready.
Ask Specific, Open-ended Questions
The question ‘How was your day?’ can seem overwhelming for kids making it difficult to know where to start. It’s often easier for them to say ‘good’ than to mentally sift through the events of the day and decide what to share with their parents.
You can make it much easier for your child by asking specific, open-ended questions that require more than simple, one-word answers. Keep these questions positive and make the effort to remember teachers’ and classmates’ names. Watch for non-verbal cues while your child is talking to gauge how they’re feeling.
Here are some questions you can use:
- Tell me about something fun you did today.
- What did you learn about in science / English / maths?
- What did you do at lunchtime?
- What was the most challenging thing that happened today?
- Tell me about one new thing you learned today.
- What are you looking forward to tomorrow?
How a Tutor Can Help
Working with a tutor helps students develop better communication skills because they are required to talk about their schoolwork in a one-on-one situation with a supportive adult.
Having the ability to discuss challenges and focus on solutions is vital for developing confidence and resilience. Working with a tutor will in turn give students the skills to talk more openly about school with parents.
Contact us for a free consultation today!