Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Dear Families in the Middle,

Here in the middle, we recognize the communication dynamic between parent and child changes a bit. Between the extremes of NOT talking and talking all the time is that wonderful place of meaningful conversation between parent and child. I recently read an article with fabulous suggestions for questions and reminders for those conversations we long to have with our child. Here are a few questions the author suggests to replace "How was school today?"

  1. Tell me about a moment today when you felt excited about what you were learning.
  2. Think about what you learned and did in school today. What’s something you’d like to know more about? What’s a question you have that came from your learning today?
  3. Tell me about a moment when you felt care and respect from a classmate or teacher. 
  4. Tell me about an enjoyable conversation you had with someone. 
  5. What was challenging about your day?
  6. What do you appreciate about your day?
  7. What did you learn about yourself today?
  8. What are you looking forward to tomorrow?
  9. What question do you wish I’d ask you about your day?

Tips for Asking Questions

According to the author of the article, "how and when we ask these questions makes a big difference in the information we receive from our kids. First, you don’t want to ask all of these questions on the same day. You might ask one or two. After a while, you’ll figure out which ones elicit the most meaningful responses. You’ll want to ask during a time when you have the ability to focus so that your child feels they have your full attention." Dinner and driving in the car are optimal times for these conversations.

More Suggestions

To help keep conversations positive and powerful:
  • Don’t interrupt. This is a good rule for any conversation, but especially if you want to get a lot of information from someone.
  • Ask for more. Simply say, “I’d love to hear more about that...” Or, “Can you expand on that a little?”
  • Ask about feelings. After a child describes an experience, ask, “How did you feel in that moment? What did you notice about your feelings?”
  • Validate feelings. Whatever your kid feels is normal and okay. Let them know that. Feelings are okay. Talk about how to express those feelings in ways that help others know how to help. 
  • Thank them for sharing with you. Always appreciate their honesty and willingness to share the highlights and bright spots, as well as the difficult moments. This will fuel their confidence in telling you more.
Source: Elena Aguilar, 15 Questions to replace "How was school today?,Edutopia, October 27, 2016. 

On a related note...thank you for the many ways you model, teach and re-teach kindness and respectfulness in moments of disappointment, stress and frustration. Staying calm, asking questions and listening attentively helps us understand another perspective and respond thoughtfully. 


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