I kept falling into the same trap day after day. I would ask my children, “How was school today?” Their answer was always “fine.” At that point I’d pretty much lost them because in their mind, the question had been asked and answered and no further discussion was necessary. I decided to “get tricky” and ask them something more specific: “What did you learn (or do) at school today?” I imagine you can guess the answer to this question. Say it with me: “Nothing.”
As school-age providers, I’ll bet you’ve tried engaging your students in conversations about their school day. Perhaps you’ve gotten a handful of students who will hold a lengthy conversation with you, but would you say the majority give you answers like those described above? What can you do to invoke some richer conversations and meaningful interactions? Try using some of the questions from the following list the next time you are interacting with your school-aged children. Be sure to follow their answers up with further questions to keep the conversation going!
- Tell me one thing you did to make someone smile.
- What was your favorite part of the day?
- Tell me something that made you laugh today.
- What was a challenge you faced today?
- What did you do in your special class (library, music, art, PE) today?
- Are you reading a book in class? Tell me about it.
- What interesting facts did you learn in Social Studies/Science?
- What did you have for lunch? (Food usually is a good conversation starter)!
Hopefully this list acts as a good starting point, and you can add some of your own thoughts. Conversations are an important part of the staff-child relationships. Making them a natural part of every day will only enhance those relationships.