How many times have you asked your children about their school day just to receive the age-old response, "Fine". Or you may have asked, "What did you do today?" and hear "Nothing" as an answer. Sound familiar?
Getting children to talk about school can be tricky. Often they are tired after a long day. Sometimes they just don't want to talk about what happened. At other times they don't know HOW to tell you. You can help by asking questions in a different way. The use of specific language that does not allow for a yes/no or one word answer can help your children find the words that they need to give you the information that you want.
Here are some suggestions as to how to get an ACTUAL response from your children that contains real information!
If you want to know about academics you can ask questions such as the following:
- What words did you spell correctly on your spelling test?
- Tell me about one difficulty you had in math today. How did you solve it?
- Who did you work in a group with today in social studies? Tell me what you did to get the work done.
- What was the most interesting thing you learned today in science? What made it so interesting?
- Tell me about one of the characters in the book you are reading at school. What do you like/dislike about this character?
- What was the most challenging thing you accomplished today in school? What strategies did you use to be successful?
If you want to know about your child's social world you can ask questions like this:
- Which classmates did you eat lunch with today?
- What did you say to join in on a game today? What did your friends say back to you?
- What was the kindest thing one of your classmates did for you today?
- Tell me two things you did to be a good friend today.
- How did you help solve any disagreements with your friends today?
- What was the funniest thing that happened during recess today?
- What went really well with your friends today?
If you want to know about your child's emotions you can ask these questions:
- What happened to make you feel appreciated today?
- When did you feel noticed or welcome today?
- What did you do to feel happy today?
- What made you feel proud today?
- Tell me about something that made you feel mad or sad today. What did you do to calm yourself?
- What did your friends do to make you feel loved today?
Be aware that your child may still try to get away with responding "Nothing" or "I don't know" to your questions. This is normal when learning to communicate in a different way or when talking about something that is difficult to share. You can follow up with this response... "If something did happen, what might it have been?" Or "If you did know, what would you say?" More often than not, following up with these questions help elicit a response simply by making the question feel a bit safer to answer.
Here is an excerpt from an article titled, "The Questions That Will Help You Save Your Relationships". It certainly applies to talking to your kids.
"...if we really want to know our people, if we really care to know them -- we need to ask them better questions and then really listen to their answers. We need to ask questions that carry along with them this message: "I'm not just checking the box here. I really care what you have to say and how you feel. I really want to know you." If we don't want throwaway answers, we can't ask throwaway questions. A caring question is a key that will unlock a room inside the person you love".