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Conversations with Your Child After School

For much of the year 2020, parents have had the unique (and stressful!) opportunity of front row seats to their child’s learning environment. Many students began this school year virtually, but some families are back in the classroom or are making the transition to in-person learning in the next few weeks. Parents and caregivers may no longer be involved in every moment of their child’s school day. As students come home from their day at school, parents/caregivers are often curious about what goes on during those six hours. For some, asking the simple question, “How was school today?” can result in a very simple answer… “Fine” or “It was good.” This can be disappointing after a while!

Keep in mind that asking a ton of questions may seem overwhelming. For younger, elementary-aged children, try asking fun, open-ended questions, such as:

What made you laugh today?

What was the most challenging thing you had to do today?

Tell me about lunch today… who did you sit with?

What was the hardest rule to follow today?

For older students, try to remember information that they’ve shared and bring it up again in a non-threatening way, such as:

Your math test is coming up… I know you are nervous. Have any talked with any other classmates about how they are feeling?

You had a history quiz today… how prepared did you feel?

Yesterday you said you were rushing between classes… how did it go today?

Remember that asking open-ended questions can encourage your child to elaborate more about their day but if they are hesitant to share then you don’t have to push it. You can try again later in those natural conversational moments like driving to a sports practice or during dinner and model sharing about your own workday too.

If your child mentions something about school, you can comment, “I love hearing about what you learn at school” or “I really enjoy when you tell me about your day.” Show a genuine interest in hearing what your child has to say and let them share about what is important to them. They will notice if the only questions you ask are about their grades or what they are learning. Those are important but if that want to share about their friend’s new shoes or the new mural in lunchroom, that’s also a big deal!

by Chelyan McComas, MS, NCC, LAPC

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