How to Get Kids to Talk About School

How many times have parents asked, "What did you do at school today?" only to hear the same answer: "Nothing."

If you're not getting the answers you want, chances are, you're not asking the right questions.

You need to pose your queries so they start conversations--and not shut down your child.

It's all about how you ask the questions. Avoid questions with "yes" or "no" answers, and instead ask questions that are open-ended to help your child tell you more about what's really going on in the classroom.

The National Center for Learning Disabilities offers the following tips:

  • Often kids are not specific, so you have to ask for specific information when you want it.

  • Starting with factual questions is a great way to ease into conversation.

  • Avoiding emotion-packed words (such as fun, happy, sad or mean) will allow the conversation to go on longer.

  • Asking positive questions will give your child a chance to express concerns. Negative questions will stop a conversation.

Here are some examples of how to ask questions that will start a conversation:

Don't ask: What did you do at school today?
Do ask: What was the most interesting thing you did in ____ class today? (Fill in the blank with your child's favorite class or the one he or she struggles in. Change the class you ask about each day.)

Don't ask: How was school?
Do ask: Tell me one thing that happened today that was the most interesting to you.

Don't ask: Did you have fun at school?
Do ask: What was the best thing you did at school today?

Don't ask: How was lunch?
Do ask: Tell me the names of the four kids who sat closest to you at lunch today.

Don't ask: Was your teacher nice today?
Do ask: What was the most interesting thing your teacher said today?

This different approach to questioning will help your child tell you more, and in the process, you will gain a better insight into how your child feels about school.

--From the Editors at Netscape

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