How many times have parents asked, “What did you do at school today?” only to hear the same answer: “Nothing.” If you’re not getting the answers you want, chances are, you’re not asking the right questions. You need to pose your queries so they start conversations–and not shut down your child. It’s all about how you ask the questions. Avoid questions with “yes” or “no” answers, and instead ask questions that are open-ended to help your child tell you more about what’s really going on in the classroom. The National Center for Learning Disabilities offers the following tips:
- Often kids are not specific, so you have to ask for specific information when you want it.
- Starting with factual questions is a great way to ease into conversation.
- Avoiding emotion-packed words (such as fun, happy, sad or mean) will allow the conversation to go on longer.
- Asking positive questions will give your child a chance to express concerns. Negative questions will stop a conversation.
Here are some examples of how to ask questions that will start a conversation:
Don’t ask: What did you do at school today? Do ask: What was the most interesting thing do did in ____ class today? (Fill in the blank with your child’s favorite class or the one he or she struggles in. Change the class you ask about each day.)
Don’t ask: How was school? Do ask: Tell me one thing that happened today that was the most interesting to you.
Don’t ask: Did you have fun at school? Do ask: What was the best thing you did at school today?
Don’t ask: How was lunch? Do ask: Tell me the names of the four kids who sat closest to you at lunch today?
Don’t ask: Was your teacher nice today? Do ask: What was the most interesting thing your teacher said today?