Beyond “I don’t know” – Getting your child to communicate about their school day
“How was your day?” is one of the most common questions families ask each other. It directly contributes to a positive family dynamic by opening the lines of communication. However, this can be a difficult question for children. Just like us kids can have a stressful and busy day. Sometimes, it is difficult for a child to truly communicate about what happened at school. This doesn’t mean that your child did not have a ‘good’ day. They just might not know how to talk about it with you.
Anyone who is a parent has been there. You’ve asked your child, “How was your day?” only to be answered by a grunt or the phrase, “I don’t know”. Talking to your child about their school day is an important part of open family communication. And, it can help you understand the challenges or worries your child may be facing. And, can help you celebrate your child’s success.
Finding ways to share thoughts, feelings and concerns is an important part of creating a healthy family environment. Getting your child to open up might simply be a matter of asking the right questions. Asking ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions doesn’t allow your child to describe their day in their own words. A great way to get your child to open up about their day is to describe your own. Give your child specifics about activities related to your day to help them open up.
Scholastic Parent suggests the following conversation starters to help get your child to share details about their day and open the lines of communication:
Tell me about the best part of your day.
What was the hardest thing you had to do today?
Did any of your classmates do anything funny?
Tell me about what you read in class.
Who did you play with today? What did you play?
Do you think math [or any subject] is too easy or too hard?
What’s the biggest difference between this year and last year?
What rules are different at school than our rules at home? Do you think they’re fair?
Who did you sit with at lunch?
Can you show me something you learned (or did) today?
Asking open-ended questions helps to improve family communication and keeps the conversation going. When you ask your child a yes or no question, you’re not giving them the chance to truly share his/her experiences and feelings.
And remember, we all need a little time to chill at the end of the day. Let your child have some downtime after school. Allow your child enjoy a snack and catch their breath before you ask about his/her day. Follow your child’s lead if your questions open the door for family communication keep them coming. If the conversation just isn’t happening, your child may need a little more time to chill.
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