What’s really going on at school?
Have you ever picked up your kids from school and asked them, “How was your day?” to only get a one-word answer such as, “fine”? Then you follow that up with “what did you do”? Nothing! These are typical responses from kids who don’t know what you’re asking and how to engage with you as the parent.
Here are a few open-ended questions you can ask at the table to get your kids talking about what’s going on at school.
Listen for frustrations that may exist at school. If the answer is directed to a teacher, a student or a particular class you can ask additional follow up questions to go deeper.
On the contrary, if they are enjoying school and are engaged, their suggestions may be uplifting and helpful. Praise them for giving you thoughtful answers.
If you could vote one other person president of your school who would you vote for and why?
Ask your kids what characteristics make up a good choice for being the president of their school. Ask them if they feel like they display the same characteristics. Tell them what you see in them that qualifies them.
If you have been asking questions like this during dinner for some time, you may also include qualities that could be improved. But, if this is your first attempt, stick to only encouraging what your child already does well.
What part of your day at school would you completly do away with if you could? Why?
This could be a time where they see nothing good happenning or it’s just a waste of time. Ask follow up questions and discover what really may be going on. If they say they don’t want to talk about it, readdress the question later that evening when they are alone. Tell them your experiences from your school years.
This question may uncover a bullying situation. Be sensitive to your child’s hesitance; there may be deep hurt. But, as the parent, you are the best one to help them confront and begin to heal.
There are many great things about your children’s school, but there are also a lot of opportunities for conflicts. Most kids at some point will experience drama, bullying and feel like they are failing. Tell you children that you realize that not all days at school will be blissful and you are here to help them through the tough days. Tell them your experiences and how it made you feel.
Stay connected to their friends and their teachers and listen to how they talk to their friends about school. Helping your kids navigate through the early years will help them deal with obstacles as they grow up.