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At a Glance

  • The way you ask questions matters.
  • Ask open-ended questions instead of questions that can be answered with yes or no.
  • Ask questions about times when your child socializes with other kids, like lunch and recess.
When your child comes home on the first few days of school—or throughout the school year—you may have lots of questions for her. Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re talking to your child about school.

  • Try to ask open-ended questions to keep a conversation going. If you ask your child questions that can be answered with one word (yesno, a name), then you’ll probably get a one-word response.
  • Often kids are not specific, so you have to ask for specific information when you want it.
  • Starting with factual questions is a great way to ease into conversation. (“I know your class size is bigger this year than last year. What’s that like?”)
  • Avoiding emotion-packed words (happysadmean) can help the conversation go on longer.
  • Asking positive questions gives your child a chance to express concerns. Negative questions tend to stop a conversation.

Afterschool Conversation Starters

Avoid These Questions Try These Instead
How was school? What’s the biggest difference between this year and last year?
Did you have fun at school? What was the best thing you did at school?
Who did you sit with? Tell me the names of the four kids who sat closest to you.
Was your teacher nice?
  • What was the most interesting thing your teacher said today?
  • What class rules did your teacher say are important?
  • What did your teacher say she likes to do?
Did your teacher go over the daily schedule with the class? What’s the best thing about your daily schedule?
Did you have everything you needed for school? Was there anything you wish you had at school that you didn’t have today?
Were the kids in your class nice?
  • Who did you enjoy talking with the most?
  • Did anyone have anything fun or interesting to talk about?
Did you get your schedule? Which days look best on your schedule?
Are your friends in your classes? Tell me two kids you remember from each class.
Was the work hard? What was the best thing your teacher asked you to do in ____ today?

Your child might experience social problems with other kids during times that are less structured. That could include periods like recess and lunch, and during transitions from room to room. Asking questions about these times can give you an idea about your child’s social circumstances.

Avoid These Questions Try These Instead
Did you play with anyone at recess?
  • What were most kids doing at recess?
  • What was the best game at recess?
  • What did you talk about at recess?
How was lunch?
  • Who sat near you at lunch?
  • What were the other kids eating for lunch?
  • What was the funniest thing someone said at lunch?
Did you get your locker?
  • Where is your locker?
  • Who has a locker near yours?

Give these conversation starters a try. To keep the conversation going, get ideas on how to respond to common things your child may say.

Key Takeaways

  • Positive questions (“Which is your favorite class?”) help encourage more conversation.
  • Avoid using emotional words like sad or mean, which can cause your child to stop talking.
  • Try asking questions that have numbers, like “Who are the three kids you like best in your new class?”

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