The following is an article I wrote for my sons’ school newsletter.
One way parents demonstrate the importance of education to their children is by talking with them about school. Some children volunteer information about school readily, while others need a bit of encouragement to get them sharing. Following are some suggestions for getting the conversational ball rolling. It may only take one question, or it may take a few, but once your child gets started, hold off on additional questions for the moment and let him or her direct the conversation. You may be surprised by what you learn.
Sometimes it can be as simple as asking your children to tell you about any artwork or take-home papers that come home in their backpacks. I often ask my kids to reread Scholastic News (ignoring any protests about already having read it) and then we use that as the basis for a discussion.
Use books as conversation starters. Pick up a book about school from the public library and read it together. Even upper elementary learners benefit from being read to. Picture books are “everybody” books – don’t let your bigger kids tell you otherwise. Some good books set at school that we’ve read recently include Hannah’s Way by Linda Glaser and A Letter to My Teacher by Deborah Hopkinson.
Model talking about your day. Tell them something that happened to you today and then give your child a chance to share. By talking about your interests, challenges and joys, you are providing models of what you’d like your kids to share with you.
Ask specific, open-ended questions. Try out some of the ones below if you’re looking for new ideas:
What book did your teacher read aloud today?
Whom did you sit by at lunch?
What was the nicest thing you did for someone today?
Who made you smile today?
What is your teacher’s most important rule?
Which person in your class is your exact opposite? How or why?
Tell me something you learned about a friend today.
What did you do at recess?
How would you rate your day on a scale from one to ten? Why?
What was the hardest rule to follow today? Why?
What is one thing you hope to learn before the school year is over?
Whom do you want to make friends with but haven’t yet?
When did you feel proud of yourself today?
What challenged you today?