Every parent would like to learn as much as possible from their child about how it was at school. In many homes, the most important conversations are about this topic. It is no wonder, after all, school education takes about 13 years and there is still a social belief that our future depends on it. Hence the parents’ concern and their interest in what is happening at school, and sometimes the need for intervention. Remember that you should talk to your child about school not only when something difficult is going on – it is worth just asking what’s going on with him and how he is doing as a student. How to talk to your child.
Apart from the family home, school is the second important environment of the child’s life, in which he spends a lot of time. No wonder they often say, “How was school?” It turns out that this question is the one most asked by parents! Some of us, when picking up children from school or meeting them at home, ask them almost mechanically. The answers we hear from our childhood are “okay”, “ok”, okay “,” cool “. In fact, they tell us nothing, and often cause irritation, because not only did the child mumble something under our breath, but also casually shrugged it off and quickly closed the room door behind it. When a parent asks this question, he expects a lot more information. Therefore, it is worth considering how else you can talk to a student about what happened at school, how our child felt there, what did he learn, what was difficult for him?
It is worth remembering that school is a workplace for a child. Usually, we, too, when we come back from it, do not want anyone to ask us how we were in it. Therefore, when a child returns from school, he or she needs some time to rest, to relieve the tension at school. The best thing a parent can do then is to greet them happily, for example, “I’m glad that you are here”, smile and hug them. When we start flooding the child with an avalanche of questions, it will certainly have the opposite effect, discouraging them from contacting us, regardless of how old the child is.
Intention to talk
In a conversation about school, the parent’s intention is important – why am I asking what is important to me? It is worth arousing the following reflection:
- “Am I asking because I want to find out about the child’s situation, find out if he has any problems, why he got another failing grade and should I act?” Such a parent is interested in the facts and less or not at all in what the child feels or thinks. It is action-oriented.
- “Do I ask because I care about a good relationship with my child, because I am interested in his world and well-being? I want to be close, to give him support and make him feel that he is important to me. “
During the conversation, the child will sense very quickly what the parent’s intention is. Whether he is interested in him as a person or in his achievements, successes, failures. When a child feels that a parent is interested in him as a person, he is much more likely to enter into a conversation.
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The very atmosphere in which the conversation takes place is also extremely important. It is worth ensuring peace and the right time, which will give the child a sense of security. The question asked at dinner together, “How are you, what day did you have today?”, “Hey, what happened with you today?” This will prove that his integrity is respected. If we know that the child spent a lot of time preparing for the test the day before, it is worth asking how his work went – e.g. what were the tasks, their number and difficulty, writing time. Don’t ask “How did you go?” It is also worth for the parent to be an example and to model the behavior he expects from the child himself and to be the first to tell how his day passed, what happened, what happened with him. Children learn best by imitation, and parents are the child’s most important role model.
What questions can a child be asked to find out how his school day was?
- What was the best thing that happened at school today?
- What was the most difficult thing that happened in school today?
- Who did you play with during breaks, what were you doing interesting? What about what you were doing did you like the most?
- What are you most interested in school today?
- What did you like best at dinner?
- At what point in school today were you bored?
However, it is worth remembering that such asking questions may be perceived by the child as “questioning”, so sometimes it is enough to listen actively to what the child wants to tell us.
What does active listening mean?
- Make eye contact with your baby, listen genuinely, and focus on what he’s telling us, without having to worry about anything else at the time.
- Continuing the conversation with the child in order to pick up a phone or SMS that is important in our opinion.
- Nodding, confirming that we are listening through words like: aha, hmm, I understand, I hear.
- Making sure we understand the child well – use a paraphrase.
- Name the child’s feelings, what he or she is going through, showing empathy.
- In a situation of difficulties – refraining from advice, and encouraging them to look for their own solutions, motivating them to make independent decisions.
- Asking a question with a request for clarification, e.g. what specific has failed?
- A moment of silence that will allow the child to collect and clarify his thoughts.
It is worth remembering that the way parents ask questions and how they react to what the child says will determine in the future whether the child wants to talk to us and share their feelings and school experiences. If we only ask about the grades and whether it was the only excellent grade, the child may get the impression that the grades are the most important, not the person as a person. Sometimes one or two situations are enough for a child to stop talking about their experiences, successes or difficulties.
What doesn’t help when you talk to your child about school?
- Holding someone else’s side, e.g. a teacher, friend, not a child.
- Comparing with others.
- Denying what your child is going through.
- Too hasty advice – the child first needs to be listened to, and only then to look for solutions.
- Frightening, punishing.
So how do you talk to your child about school?
- Show interest, respect and care for a supportive and safe atmosphere.
- Formulate questions appropriately.
- Pay attention to the various non-verbal cues your child sends you.
- Listen carefully and actively without interrupting.
- Not to provide ready-made solutions, but to help you find them.
- Be curious about what your child has to say.
It is worth remembering that conversations about school can be difficult for our child, so the more accepting and supportive conditions a parent creates, the more willingly the child will want to share their experiences with him.