Nice Talking: The Better Alternatives to “How’s School Today?”

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mother cuddling her daughter

For sure, you’re quite familiar with this after-school scene that happens in the car or at the kitchen counter every single time: You ask your child, “How’s school today?” and they answer a one-liner of either “It’s fine.” or “Okay.” then poof — nothing follows. Sadly, a lot of parents don’t notice this. Worse, most of them don’t recognize the value of being serious and intentional in checking in on kids every day.

You can do so much better when it comes to knowing what’s up with your child. Try these alternatives to engage them in a meaningful conversation:

What made you laugh today?

Frankly, your kid might think of it as weird that you’re asking a specific thing, but before they even catch the strangeness of the question, their mind would wander already, going back to all the stuff they experienced that day. They might tell you about catching a classmate pick their nose or someone at the playground doing funny faces while taking the slide. As they tell you the story, take note of people’s names or places, so you can follow up questions later, and sustain the conversation. Try not to interrupt while they’re speaking even if you’re so excited about telling a funny story yourself. The principle is, listen attentively.

Is there something that made you upset?

The stark opposite of the first one. Of course, student life has ups and downs. You need to check not just highs, but the lows. Especially, the lows. Some lows you can expect are low grade on an exam, too much homework, bad bullies, crush drama, etc. Now, if there is indeed something discouraging your child experienced, they may not readily tell you about it. But you’ll know that there is, based on their body language. That’s why it’s important that when you ask this question, you give your 100% focus. Remember, you might be bringing up a sensitive matter in their mind when you ask this.

teacher guiding her student

What’s the most interesting lesson you got today?

Of course, beyond the heart stuff, you also want to know how they’re doing, learning-wise. Ask them about lessons that piqued their curiosity. From there, maybe you could suggest taking a specific high school course. Gilbert, AZ-based educators explain that this kind of conversation can help a child be more in touch with their subject matter preferences, avoiding the tendency to pick classes for the sole reason that their friends chose such. Since you’re already talking about plans, might as well take the discussion to dream jobs. Believe it or not, this meaningful talk will let you discover a lot about your kid.

Who did you eat lunch with?

The people your kid hangs out with during free time are the ones they feel comfortable with. These peers, take note, are among the most powerful influencers on your child. They may be more persuasive than you so it would be good to know about these friends to learn the kind of influence they have on your teen. This doesn’t mean getting nosy about the young people, though. Think of this question as an opening to tough conversations about peer pressure, friendship drama, etc.

Again, you can engage in a more meaningful talk than the cliche “how’s school today?” Try these alternatives this afternoon and see the difference.