How the heck do you get your kids to talk about school?? Some days it’s as if they ship off to a secret society every day that they cannot talk about.
Has this scenario played out in your minivan? You pick your kid up from school. They buckle in for the ride home. You ask “How was school today?” Your child tells you that school was “okay” or suggests that somehow the entire day went by without anything happening at all.
What you really want is for them to open up and talk about school and their friends, right? It can be a challenge for every mom, no doubt – it’s like pulling teeth getting your kids to talk about school and what happens there every day. Try these strategies that can help you to get your kids to talk about school. Then check out these 100 Questions to Ask Your Kids About School that you can use as conversation starters.
Take a breather
Sometimes your kiddo just needs a little space. Think of it this way, when you leave work do you look forward to some peace and quiet just for a little bit? Chances are your child might feel the same way after school lets out. Give them a half hour to relax before mentioning anything about school.
Small children may find it difficult to put their feelings into words. Try tossing a ball around, blowing bubbles or jumping rope to help them release a little stress. Sometimes it’s during these times of play a child will most open up.
Study the drawings that your child brings home from school. They may give you insights into what they’re thinking about or serve as conversation starters.
The more you know about your child’s schedule the more you can be engaged. For instance, if Friday is your child’s day to do art in school, you can ask them specifically about that class. Sometimes younger children have an easier time recalling parts of their day if they have specific references. We’ll talk more about this in a bit when we explore Verbal Communication Strategies.
Engage in activities
The most constructive conversations often develop naturally when you’re preparing dinner or taking a walk together. Spending time with your children creates more opportunities for deeper communication and a chance to tell you what they did at school. Plus, having your child be your little helper can boost their confidence. Read more about 14 Tips to Boosting Confidence in Your Child.
Schedule family dinners
Believe it or not, one of the best ways to get your kid talking is by having consistent family dinners. Regular family dinners provide a time to connect and practice conversation skills. Make it a habit to go around the dinner table and have each person share one thing about their day. This way your kids are forced to talk about school and tell you at least one thing that happened that day.
Ask specific questions
Younger children especially often need targeted questions to help them organize their thoughts and recall what happened at school. So instead of asking the general question “how was your day,” try to ask a specific question such as “who did you sit by at lunch today?” Want a list of questions to ask your child about school? Check the article 100 Questions to Ask Your Kids About School.
If you want to talk with your child about a sensitive subject, it’s much better to be direct. Transparency will earn you more trust and move the conversation further than talking in riddles and dancing around the topic. Be gentle but firm when you need to explore behavior issues or failing grades at school.
Pay attention to your child’s accomplishments and efforts as well as the areas where they might be struggling. Let them know that you’re proud of them for making an effort to learn math, take on a new challenge or being kind to a friend in need. Be sure to link praise to actual events the child has performed at school. Blanket statement praise such as “you’re so smart” without linking to specific events and evidence, can lead to confidence issues and struggles later on in life. Read more about 14 Tips to Boosting Confidence in Your Child.
Laugh it up
Use a little humor to bring you closer together. Share a funny story from your own childhood, or something humorous from your day like a funny situation or a hilarious video. It’s during times of laughter that your kid just may end up sharing something fun or funny that happened at school that day.
Be a role model
Sharing details about your workplace will show your child how to talk about their experiences too. You may find that they’ll be asking you to tell them about your day.
Be an active listener. Set aside time to stop what you’re doing, and give your child your full attention. Look them in the eye when talking. They’ll be more likely to open up when they see how much you care.
The way you talk with your children has a major impact on being able to share information and build strong connections. Let your child know that you’re interested in their school day, and ask them what you can do to help them learn and grow.