‘So how was school today?’

by User Not Found | Jul 13, 2016

Two young school girls laughingIt’s the classic question to ask when you first see your child after a long day at school.

So when you ask typical questions, expect typical answers like ‘good or ok’.

Hmm, sound familiar?

By the end of a school day, children are tired, hungry, thirsty, sometimes moody and the bright-eyed child we saw in the morning is no longer recognisable.

When the final school bell rings, all children want to do is go home and unwind. So it’s no wonder that when you ask your child ‘how was your day,?’ all you’re going to get is a one-liner, if that.

In fact, asking this tired and repetitive question is probably the least effective way to find out how school really was.   

Getting the timing right:

Try putting yourself in your child’s shoes. Just like adults, children have their good days and ordinary days at school. If their day was average at best, the last thing children want to talk about is how they struggled in maths class, or how they were picked on during recess.

So think about how much nicer it would be to just say hello or give your child a hug and asked nothing at all about school, until they were ready to talk about their day once they’ve had enough time to change into more comfy clothes and sit in front of the TV for a while.

Making it specific:

Asking ‘what did you do at school today?’ is a very broad question and depending on the developmental stage of a child, they may not remember what happened, in what sequence, with whom, or what the point of a lesson was all about.

Retelling an event requires skills in storytelling and kids in the early years of primary school may not yet have the attention span or vocabulary to remember, summarise or relate at great length. But that doesn't mean adults can't encourage and help develop memory retrieval and storytelling by asking specific questions to make it easier for them to explain.

Questions could include:

  • Did you share your lunch with anyone today?

  • What did you do that was fun?

  • What game did you play at recess?

  • What did you like best about school today?

  • Did you read any books?

  • Was anyone away from class?

Showing interest:

Why is it that when you're busy preparing dinner, getting the rest of your children showered and ready for school the next day, that your little one decides they want to chat?

Despite the bad timing, children benefit from your full attention and they need you to show them you're interested in their lives and what happened at school, because that's the one time you're not there to share their experiences.

Some kids take forever to get the words out, but we can help by:

  • really listening

  • letting them finish their sentences

  • engaging their faces and eyes

  • letting them know they've been heard and understood

  • keeping questions until they've finished speaking.

We can assure them we're interested by nodding, smiling, and encouraging them to say how they felt, or what happened next.

The dinner won't cook itself, but it will wait for another five or ten minutes while we tune into perhaps the most important one-on-one conversation we're going to get with our child today.

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