By Emily Graham, PTO Today
Maybe your daughter says she hates social studies but won't tell you why. Or your son, when asked what he learned at school, just says, "Nothing." Talking about school with your children shows them that you value education and keeps you aware of what's going on in their lives, but what should you do when they don't want to talk?
First, think about the time of day and the kind of questions you ask. Whether your child is a chatty first-grader or a tightlipped teenager, he may not want to talk about a tough math test as soon as he gets home from school. And questions like "How was school?" are bound to elicit uninformative answers like "Fine."
Experts recommend taking a few minutes to reconnect as a family after the busy day before addressing school and household issues. Let your kids know you're glad to see them and wait a while to ask about grades. Keep in mind that they may be tired or preoccupied when they first come home, or they may want some quiet time before launching into the evening's activities.
When you start a conversation about school, ask specific questions about parts of your child's day or the school environment, advises Laurence Steinberg, author of The 10 Basic Principles of Good Parenting and a psychology professor at Temple University.
"I think the biggest mistake parents make is to ask broad questions like 'How was your day today?' and their kids give a one- or two-word answer," Steinberg says. "The more specific you are in your questions, the more of an answer you're likely to get."
At the beginning of the school year, he suggests asking general questions to learn about a child's classroom, teacher, and classmates, such as:
If your child is not talkative, you can still learn a lot about her school experience through other means. Read the school newsletter, email the teacher, and talk to other parents on the phone. As you become more familiar with your child's daily routine, you can ask more-specific questions to get her talking about a project or class pet.
What should you do when your daughter announces that she hates school or when your son says he can't stand the kids in his class? Even for children prone to melodrama, these kinds of statements may signal that a child is having academic or social problems at school. It's important to get to the root of the problem, Steinberg says, and that will take patience and understanding.
When your daughter says, "I hate school," it could mean she is bored in class, doesn't understand new material, is being pushed too hard, or doesn't get along with a teacher. Your son's declaration that he doesn't like the other students may mean that he feels ignored or friendless or that he's being bullied or victimized.
Parents can help by talking with their kids about steps they can take to make the situation better. Younger children may need their parents' help to think about how to solve a problem, and older children need a chance to solve problems on their own, Steinberg says.
While most kids will be nervous about new experiences, that nervousness should fade over time, Steinberg says. Parents should be cheerful yet firm in dealing with their kids. "The most important thing for the child to have is support from you," he notes.
Sign up for our newsletter and we'll send you more
insights to help you help your child succeed.
Thank you! You will begin to receive newsletters from us shortly.
Great work! Only one more step. Now we just need you to verify your email address. Please click on the link in the email we just sent you to complete your registration.
Great work! Only one more step. Now we just need you to verify your email address. Please click on the link in the email we just sent you to submit your review.
Please click on the link in the verification email we just sent you to complete your change of email address.
Whoops! It looks like we still need to verify your email. To do so, please click on the link in the email we sent you. Can't find the e-mail? Click the button below and we'll send you a new one.
Thanks for registering. Welcome to GreatSchools, the largest online community committed to improving educational outcomes through parental involvement.
Thanks for verifying your updated email address.
Oops! You haven't verified your email address yet. To do so, please click on the link in the email we sent you. Can't find the email? Click the button below to receive a new one.
Oops! That email verification link has expired. Please click the button below to receive a new one.
Create an account to submit your answers.
Sign in with an existing GreatSchools account or using Facebook:
Your review has been posted to GreatSchools.
Share with friends! Post your opinion of on Facebook.
Welcome to GreatSchools!
For principals and school officials, we offer a special Enhanced School Profile (ESP) which allows you to update and add information about your school, as well as respond to reviews. If you are a school official, click Continue to start.
Please note that it can take up to 48 hours for your comment to be posted to our site. While you're here, we'd like to invite you to fill out a survey on your school's programs, activities, and extracurriculars. It only takes a few minutes and will help parents get a full picture of your school.
Get started now! You have successfully registered and can now start updating your Official School Profile. The information you provide is extremely valuable in helping parents and students learn more about your school, so thanks for taking the time!
Thank you for registering as a school leader. We just need to verify your email address. We've sent you an email - please click on the link in that message to get started editing your school's information!
Thanks! We just sent you an email – please click on the link in the email to post your answers.
Get timely updates for , including performance data and recently posted user reviews.