Every parent has experienced it. The car ride home from school, the walk home from the bus, or dinnertime conversation. One curious, well-meaning parents asks “So, what did you learn today?” and the overwhelming response from all school aged children is a simple “Nothing.”
How can they say nothing?! You ask yourself If someone were to ask me what I did all day, I’d be able to provide a laundry list of tasks that kept me busy all day! You yell inside your mind.
“Nothing? You didn’t learn ANYTHING?” you plead, hoping they’ve miraculously remembered every fact, figure and application presented to them that day. “Nope” they respond.
Should I call the school? What are these teachers doing? Why aren’t my kids being educated?! You worry. But before you march up to the school and demand a meeting with the teacher, consider changing a few simple things about how you address this question.
Educate Yourself. By knowing what is going on in your child’s class, you can be the initiator of communication. By staying on top of the literature the school sends home, reading any notes your child’s teacher sends home, and maintaining an open line of communication with the teacher, you’ll have a jumping off point to start with that will hopefully spark a conversation about the day’s events. It is also helpful to ask the teacher what sort of questions to ask. One mother was worried that her son wasn’t telling her what was going on in school, and addressed the teacher. The teacher suggested asking her son what he wrote about in his Journal each morning. When the mother asked about the journal, the child opened right up and gave his mother the specifics she was looking for.
Ask About More Than Academics- Chances are, your child will remember exactly what they played at recess or who they sat next to in music class. Ask them about the “fun” parts of their day as well as the academic parts. When your child opens up about who they play with and what they talk about, it’ll give you an opportunity to look at who your child associates with and how the class dynamic is arranged.
Think about HOW You Ask: While what you’re asking is important, how you ask it can be just as vital. Ask your child questions that require more than a one-word answer. “Did you have a good day?” results in a one-word answer, and the conversation is at a halt. Instead ask, “What was the best part of your day?” or “What part of the day is boring to you?” These questions elicit extended responses, and can provide you with more information to ask more questions. Remember not to ask the same question every day, and don’t ask a million questions a day. This is dinnertime conversation, not a cross-examination.
Kids are like dogs, they can sense desperation. Don’t push them to talk; it’ll become an unnecessary struggle. Remind them that the lines of communication are always open, and that you’re always eager and excited to hear about their day. Talk to other parents too, they can be a valuable lifeline when trying to determine what it going on in the classroom.
Our tutors are experts at listening and focusing on the things the student says and does, and can be another great resource for finding out what is going on in the classroom.
By using these simple strategies, you can easily turn your child-of-few-words into an excited chatterbox of information, stories and events.