What did you learn today at school?

An article | by Jason S. Sullivan, 08-14-19

In this part of the world, it’s back to school time. As you settle into that new, familiar routine, ask your kids about their day at school. But, ask the right questions. Instead of asking – How was school? – try this: What did you learn today at school?

Close-ended questions and open-ended questions get you a different response.

Close-ended questions nail down pieces of information. These yes / no questions are useful to get the facts but don’t offer much insight. And, too many of these questions start to feel like an interrogation.

  • Was the school bus late?
  • Did you remember your lunchbox?
  • Do you have any homework?

Open-ended questions offer a chance to expand and start a conversation.

  • What did you learn at school today?
  • What do you think about the new dress code policy?
  • How did you feel about the kids in your class?

When I was a kid, my parents would ask me about my day at school.

  • How was school?
  • Fine.

The conversation often ended there.

My dad started to change it up a bit. He would ask – what did you learn today at school? That was a tough question because often it felt like I didn’t learn anything at all. But it was a good question because it made me think. I had to reflect on my day at school and pull something out of it. I started to anticipate the “dreaded” question, and it made me actively seek something to learn each day. It also led to more of a conversation.

If you ask the right questions, you get the right answers.

As kids get older, the right questions become even more critical. Building a foundation can make difficult conversations easier in the future. If your kids can’t open up about their day at school, they’re less likely to talk about more significant problems that may have.

This article originally appeared on LinkedIn.

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