In this collaborative post, we provide 3 ways to get your child to open up about school. Lockdown homeschooling has had one massively positively thing that I am grateful for, and that is how much I know about what the girls are doing at school. I know what they are learning, I know what they are struggling with, what they enjoy, what they don’t want to do, and what fascinates them. This is something I don’t get when they go to school.
Typically when I collect the girls from a day at school and ask the dreaded question, “How was school?” I get the standard reply, “fine”. Honestly, it blows my mind! All I want to know is how they are, how their day was. All they need to do is throw me a bone, tell me something, anything! But not, FINE! All we want is to be more involved in their education and school life.
Ways To Get Your Child To Open Up About School
It can be gruelling for some parents when trying to get their child to talk about their day at school. If you ask them how their day was or what they learnt, they usually reply “boring” or “can’t remember”. It’s like drawing blood from a stone. However, I have teamed up with a private college in London to share some tactics to help you encourage your child to open up a bit more. Here are 3 ways to get your child to open up about school.
Be Available To Them
First of all, you should try and make yourself available to your child for a chat as often as possible. When you want to talk might not be when they’re in a chatty mood, but when they are, they mustn’t feel like you’re too busy or too tired to talk. Essentially, the idea is to promote an open and honest environment within your family unit in which all of the family feel comfortable approaching each other for conversations at all times. Lead by example and show your child that it’s perfectly okay to share how you’re feeling about things, whether positive or negative.
My eldest daughter always feels more comfortable sharing a difficult day with her dad. I put this down to the fact that when we moved from South Africa to the UK, I was extremely anxious about her settling in and would immediately ‘jump in’ and fix whatever upset her. In hindsight, it was all fine. They settled in really quickly, which proves that kids are far more resilient than adults. I’m still working on this, but on awful days she prefers to wait until daddy comes home to talk to him about it. I accept this, at least she’s talking to someone.
Avoid Interrupting Your Child
You should also avoid interrupting your child when they are talking, especially if it’s to shut them down or disregard what they’re saying. This will only make them feel belittled and like what they have to say is unimportant. Soon they will wonder why they bothered speaking up and going forward they won’t bother offering information. Instead, try to let them speak freely, giving them a reassuring nod now and again so that they know you’re paying attention, and voice your opinions once they’ve finished.
I’ve also found it’s imperative to give them your attention during this time. If they come to you whilst you’re watching TV, turn it off. If you’re on your phone, put it down. These small actions can indicate that they are important to you and that they have your full attention.
Ask your child open questions
Asking open questions is a great way to get your child to open up about school. Open questions are those that require more than one word as an answer. This will help encourage your child to engage in a more in-depth conversation. For example, if you ask “Did you have science today?” they will either say yes or no however if you ask them “Which lessons did you have today?” or “Which was your favourite lesson today and why?” that will prompt them actually to consider their answer. This will not only enable you to get them to open up, it will also help them with their communication skills.
Personally, I also ask my girls questions like, “What did you have for lunch today?” or “Who did you play with at break time?”. These questions usually pull out additional information from them and prompt them to give me insights into what happened rather than just the standard one-word answers.
Most Importantly, Don’t Put Too Much Pressure On Them
With all that said, it’s important not to pressure your kids into providing details of their day at school. Remember that you are their parent are their happy and safe space, and sometimes they, just like us, want to put a stressful or demanding day behind them. Maybe nothing happened, they just put it out of their mind already. That’s okay too. I hope these 3 ways to get your child to open up about school will help. And remember, if you think something is really wrong, you can always request a meeting with the school to discuss concerns with them.