By Amy Rios
We all are curious what is going on all day in our kid’s head while they are at school. We wonder what they are doing, if they are having fun, if they are learning. The curiosities are never ending. So how exactly do we get our kids to open up to us and tell us what they did all day? My daughter started her first year of school this year and it was like pulling teeth to get her to tell me anything about her day. My curiosity was on overdrive considering it was not only her first year of school, but also she went into a Spanish speaking school knowing very little Spanish in a very new country to us! It took a little playing around but our 10 minute drive home is now is one of the times I value most. Here are some things that worked for me and why.
The most popular question: “what did you learn in school today?”
Although we do want to know what they learned, learning in school is supposed to be fun. This tends to be a challenging question for young children because they didn’t learn what two colors make purple; they mixed colors in art class and created masterpieces.
Try to be more specific with questions like: “did you have art class today? What did you work with (clay, paint, crayons)?” “What did you make with it?”
Listen to everything they say even if it wasn’t the answer you were looking for: “What is your favorite subject in school?”
Recess, the answer always will be recess! So just go with it. “What did you do during recess?” “Who did you play with?” My daughter loves talking about recess. She tells me everything about it, even about fights with friends. This gives me the opportunity to give her guidance on how to handle those situations.
If you ask questions that have one word answers, you will most likely get a one word answer: “did you have a good day at school?”
The answer is one word, “Yes.” Again be more specific and ask in a way that they can open up. “What was the most exciting thing you did you in music class today?” “Did you use counters in math class?” “What activity book did you work out of today?” “What was your favorite activity in the workbook that you did?”
My daughter now tells me “I worked out of my libro de raton! We had to add how many objects were in each group. Then I got to color it when I was done.” She even goes on to tell me who was hogging the crayons, who shared their crayons and who colored the best picture. Specific questions will generally get your child to think a little more and respond with a longer more informative answer.
Don’t forget to ask about their dislikes. This matters too! Do you ever ask “What was your LEAST favorite thing about school today?”
Children, like adults, have likes and dislikes. I strongly believe that giving my daughter the opportunity to tell me what she didn’t like about school will open the door to communication down the road. Giving her the sense of security that she will be able to come to me with situations that involve struggles, discomfort, sadness, fear, or anything else that tends to be the things we store away deep inside us and try to forget. It also gives me the prospect to know what kind of things to steer away from at home, that she doesn’t enjoy doing, or reform them in a way that she might then enjoy them. A lot of time when kids don’t like something it’s because it is challenging for them. It might be an opportunity to work on it in a fun, innovated way that they will enjoy over the summer.
Getting our little ones to open up and share their day is great, not only to feed our own curiosity but to see if they are responding to the kind of education they are receiving, to determine if you value your child’s school’s values, and to establish a relationship where they know that they can always come to you no matter what the situation is. I hope some of these tips that worked for me work for you as well!
Print if off and stick it in your visor, question ideas for your kids:
- Who did you sit with at lunch? What was the funniest thing that happened during lunch?
- What was the most interesting thing that happened in class today?
- What was the worst thing that happened in school today? How did that make you feel?
- Was anything really boring today?
- If you could choose one subject to do all day which one would it be? Why?
- If you get rid of on subject in school which one would it be? Why?
- What did you use most today, crayons, colored pencils, markers, or a pencil? What did you use it for?
- Did your teacher or anybody give you any help on a activity today? What was it? Did you understand better after s/he helped?
- Is there anybody in class that you wished you got along with better? What can you do to try to make that happen?
- What was the funniest, strangest, saddest, etc. thing that happened today?
- Who did you play with at recess? What games did you play?
- Who makes you laugh most during the day?
- What would you do if you went to school tomorrow and your whole class was absent?
- Do you enjoy sitting with the kids you sit with during class? Why? If you could switch seats who would you sit next to?
- How would you feel if you got a new teacher? Will you miss your teacher next year? What is your favorite thing about being in her/his class?