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How to get your children to open up about their day

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We’ve hit the halfway mark for Term 1, but if you’re already tired of the monosyllabic answers to “How was school today?” then here’s some ideas to draw more than just “good” from your child.

Talking with them about their day shows you’re interested in what’s going on in their life. This interest boosts their mental health, happiness and wellbeing. It can also have a positive effect on your child’s behaviour and achievement. It shows your child that you value school and education, which encourages them to value it too.

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Some children attend school each day happily reporting back to parents so mum and dad know what the teacher said, what happened in the playground and just about every activity that happened.

And then there are the other children … they provide one-word answers, usually consisting of “Good,” “OK,” or just nod leaving parents feeling frustrated or concerned.

What can you do if your child isn’t communicating about school?

Plan an after-school treat

To give them something to look forward to, plan a fun activity after school. You could go to the park, choose a meal and cook it together or have a movie night with their favourite film and popcorn. This can help children relax, which often leads spontaneously to chat about the day.

Engage in child-led play

Children love to have a parent play along with them and will often ‘act out’ anything worrying them in play.  Ask what your child would like to play and then follow their instructions.

Feelings of anxiety are normal for a lot of children returning to school, but if your child’s reaction is more extreme than expected, there might be a deeper underlying cause. Perhaps it’s simply due to a fear of the unknown; for example, a change of teacher or a different classroom, or perhaps not knowing where to eat lunch this year.

Meet up with the school teacher

Make a time to chat with your child’s teacher. Simply say you aren’t hearing much about your child’s day and ask for the teacher’s impression.  Many parents feel reassured if the teacher describes the child having a mostly positive time in the classroom.

And rather than continually asking “How was your day”, re-phrase the question which may lead to a more detailed response.

Here’s 10 to try:

  1. Tell me about your favourite place in school?
  2. Did you find out anything new today?
  3. Is there anyone that you would want to play with, that you have never played with before?
  4. Where do you play most often during breaks?
  5. What was the nicest thing you did for someone else?
  1. If you could become a teacher, what would you do first?
  2. Tell me something that you laughed at today?
  3. Who is the funniest in your class? Why?
  4. Who made you smile today?
  5. What was the hardest thing about today?
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