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?