Get Your Kids to Talk About School

Talking and Connecting with Your Kids

School is officially back in swing, and we’ve all had a little bit of time to adjust to our new schedules. Or at least time to try to adjust (some of us take longer than others). New schedules and changes can be hard on parents and kids, and sometimes adjusting is difficult. It’s important to know how your children are adjusting though and talking to them is a great way to see how they’re doing. As parents, we want to know what our kids did at school and what they are feeling or thinking. It can be a challenge to kick-start conversation with kids and help them open up. We’ve compiled a few tips for getting kids to talk about their day and have also included some fun conversation starters in case you ever draw a blank.

1.      Don’t ask right away.

It can be tempting to ask, “How was school today?” as soon as your child gets in the car or walks through the door. Try not to do this (unless they prompt the conversation first). If not, give them some time to unwind. An “I missed you today!” along with a snack or a little bit of playtime can allow your child to relax and process their day before talking about it. This transition time can be important.

2.      Let the chatting happen naturally.
Find the right time to talk, and don’t force the conversation. Kids are all unique individuals, so find what works for them. During mealtimes is a great time to talk for a lot of families. Others prefer to wait until bedtime when everyone is more relaxed. There’s not a universal right or wrong time, but make sure that your kids are ready to talk and are not being forced.

3.      Ask open ended questions.
When your kiddo is ready to chat, be sure to ask open ended questions and to take their cues. If you just ask, “How was school today?” you are setting yourself up to get a one-word response.  We’ve attached a list of ideas for some open-ended conversation starters below!

4.      Model by sharing about your own day.
Make sure to talk about your own day to, so that your children can see what it looks like to share and trust your family. You don’t have to include every detail, and can skip over anything stressful or too mature, but make sure to model what it looks like to share.

5.      Know what themes they are learning about.
Keep up with what your child is learning about in school and use that to help you with your conversations. This will allow you to ask more specific questions and to help get them excited about learning outside of school.

6.      Listen without interjecting.
Let your child tell you about their day without interrupting them. Model how to be a good listener. Ask questions along the way where they naturally fit into conversation, but don’t change the subject or try to get them to talk about something else. Try not to interject with advice or any criticism.

7.      Give your full attention.
Be sure to show interest with your body language and questions. Sometimes when kids start talking, it’s hard to get them to stop. It can be easy to let the business of life get in the way and to start thinking about your to-do lists but try to give your child your full attention. It lets them know that what they say is important and that they are not a burden. Ask them questions to get the conversation to go deeper, and let them choose the topic, even if it seems moot or uninteresting to you.

8.      Talk about the good and the bad.
Ask about the best and worst parts of your child’s day. Talking about the good allows you to share in your child’s joy for what good is going on in their life and what excites them. Talking about the negative or disappointing parts can be comforting and a way to let your child know they are cared for. It is also a way to teach your child about emotions and what they are feeling. Kids need to understand that all emotions are valid, and we can teach them how to work through those emotions in healthy ways.

9.      Don’t try to fix your child’s problems right away.
Instead of jumping in and trying to fix a problem when your child is talking and opening up to you, help them develop and work through their own solutions. Share ideas about solutions but allow your child to think through and choose options as well. This will teach them important skills for later in life.

10.  Don’t be a stranger to the teacher.
If you have concerns after talking to your child be sure to address them privately with the teacher or school. See if they have also noticed any unhealthy patterns or odd behaviors and figure out the best course of action. Continue to talk to your child, but do not be judgmental or make them feel like something is wrong. It is important to build trust so they know that they can come to you. 

As parents, we want the best for our children, and talking to them is a really important way to make sure they are doing well. The more we talk to our children, the more they see family as a safe place where they can share their feelings and emotions without fear of how we will react. We should strive to make sure our children feel unconditionally loved, and that they feel a sense of significance and belonging. The earlier we start with talking to our children and teaching them how to share and have these conversations, the more they will trust us later in life as teens and adults. They will know that they can turn to family for help, and will be able to build strong relationships.

Here are a few great conversation starters if you are ever drawing a blank!

What was something that made you laugh today?
Tell me one thing you learned today:
What was your favorite part about school today?
What was the worst part about school today?
If you had $1,000 to buy something for your school, what would you buy and where would you put it?
What is something your teacher said to you today that you are still thinking about?
Was there anything you wanted to learn more about today but didn’t have time to ask the teacher about?
What is your favorite day of the week?
What made you smile today?
If you could change one thing in the world, what would you change?
Describe the perfect day.
Who is your best friend and why are they your best friend?
What’s your favorite thing about our family?
If you could make a family rule, what would it be?
What are you grateful for today?
Did you have a chance to be kind to anyone today?


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