Me: “How was school today?”
My kids: “Fine.” “Good.” “Okay.”
Well, that tells me nothing, and although I don’t need to be involved in every second of my children’s lives, I would like to understand more about where they spend the majority of the their weekdays.
My favorite ways to go from “fine” to details and discussions:
Ask When They’re Trapped!
I like to ask about school when we are in the car because there are minimal distractions as I have full radio control. You can even set it up where the kids have no toys, books or whatever they usually have in the back for this trip. If I ask when my kids are itching to do something else, I’m not even going to get a“good” — I’ll get “goo” as my kids run off to play.
Know What To Ask!
I know my kids’ school schedule within the first few weeks so instead of asking “How was school today?” (or after asking how was school today”), I ask, “How was art?” “How was that science test?” It is often easier for kids to answer specific questions with specific answers than thinking about their entire day and summarize all the thoughts and feelings they had.
I ask “What was the best (happiest, most exciting) part of your day?” and “What was the worst (saddest, bummer-est, most frustrating) part of your day?” We actually like to do this as a family at the dinner table, but it can be easily shifted to be just about school especially if you're getting no sense of how your kids are feeling about school. I get the highlights and the lowlights of how the day made them feel (and doesn’t SportsCenter make you FEEL!). I’m often surprised what comes up. We can then talk more about how proud my child was to be chosen to lead the class in a song or how sad they were when their best friends wouldn’t play with them. These feelings rarely came up when I only asked “How was school today?”
I hope that in establishing a routine of talking about school with my kids now, I will have an easier time as they get to be older and filled with more angst. Or I will just drive my car around and around and around until my teens tell me SOMETHING more than: “Fine, Mom.”