“What did you do in school today?”
This is a familiar exchange between parent and child. And it can be a frustrating one for an interested parent who genuinely wants to keep abreast of a child’s activities at school and yet not appear nosy. (This issue of intrusiveness becomes more of a problem with the ten- to twelve-year-old child and certainly with adolescents.)
Youngsters will usually be more responsive about their day at school if they are asked fairly direct questions at a time that is appropriate. For instance, when a child first arrives home from school, he might be tired and want a snack, or want to relax or play with a friend rather than rehash the day. It might be better to talk with him about school later in the day or evening. Or begin the conversation with a statement like “You look pretty hungry. Let’s have a snack and then you can tell me about your day.”
Make your questions as focused and nonjudgmental as possible. For instance:
- “What new thing did you learn in school today?”
- “What questions did you ask in class?”
- “How is that book you’ve been reading in class? What’s happening in the story?”
- “Do you have any papers or artwork in your backpack that we could look over?”
- “Is learning long division getting a little easier?”
- “Tell me about the spelling test. Was there a word or two you had trouble with?”
Knowing that their students may have trouble remembering everything that happened in school, teachers often communicate about class and school issues through written notes. Ask your child each night if he has any notes for you.
At times your child might want to talk about school when you’re right in the middle of something else. As much as possible, try to be responsive, perhaps saying something like “I want to hear about school, but right now I’m very busy fixing dinner. Let me get this casserole in the oven, and then we can sit down and really talk.” Or “Why don’t you hop on this stool and help me make this salad while we talk.”
Source: Caring for Your School-Age Child: Ages 5 to 12 (Copyright © 2004 American Academy of Pediatrics). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.