Parent talking to child

“How was school” is a question kids find too big to answer. When you throw them this question, they’ll feel like they have to sum up their whole day and don’t know where to start. The result? They’ll give you a “fine” for an answer. And this is not what we want to hear. As parents, you’d like to get as much information as you can from your children. You’d want to know what happened at school, if they had a great time or if something troubles them.

Struggling to get your kids talking about school? Here are some tips you might want to use.

Greet them first before you start asking

Bombarding your child with questions right after school might get defensive or intimidated. It is because this topic makes them think of failure more frequent than success during their day in school. So as soon as your child gets home from school, make it a habit to greet them and chat with them about things that are not necessarily related to school. Try to think of the best conversation topics for kids that could pique their interest. Spend a little time for chit chatting so they will feel more relaxed.

Give them time to decompress after school

kid screaming into microphone
Listen attentively as kids recount their day

Before you ask about their day in school, allow them some time to decompress and transition to being a little kid again. In school, your child has to be responsible for herself. They learn to handle complex situations without your help. When they get home from school, they can once again let her guard down. But sorting out the emotions can switching gears may not be easy for them. Give them some downtime, offer them a snack and give them time to relax first before you start asking about their day.

Ask open ended questions

It’s always better when your kids are the ones who bring up the subject about school first. But once you can sense that they’re already comfortable and relaxed, you may also start bringing up the subject. The key is asking the right questions. Veer away with asking the same “how was school?” question. There are plenty of other things you can ask that will lead them to share some information with you about school. Perhaps you can ask them “what game did you play on the playground today?” or “what masterpiece did you make as your art project?” Think of alternative open-ended questions that will lead your kids to talk more about school.

Avoid being too intrusive

Even your kids need some space. Avoid being too intrusive and don’t barrage your child with more questions especially when they seem distressed or anxious. If they express that they are not comfortable about a particular subject, give them some space and try to discuss it with them at a later time.

Talk about your day first

To encourage natural conversations to flow, it is also a better idea if you talk about your day first.  Share something interesting or fun that happened at work. Or maybe you can tell them about a funny joke your co-worker shared over lunch. The goal is to model a good and open conversation. It is an excellent way to stimulate a discussion related to school.

Do not give advice unless you are asked to

One of the things many kids complain about is that they always get unsolicited advice from their parents. But don’t get them wrong. It’s not that they don’t need you but what kids need more is your listening ear. They just need to feel that you are there. Take time to sit with their feelings for a while. You don’t have to say anything. You just have to let them know that you understand and that you are paying attention. Doing this will take away their fear of sharing important things with you moving forward. Whether it is about school or not, when your child feels that they can be open about anything is a good step to developing a good relationship with them.

Getting your kids to open up to parents can be challenging but knowing the right approach to use can make a difference. Looking for a preschool that focuses on your child’s holistic development? Please consider our Chicago preschool.