8 more effective ways to ask junior about school

Wise up to fuss-free tweaks you can make to your conversations, and get your child chatting about school…


The way your child thinks about school has a profound impact on whether he enjoys going to school and how much he learns from it. School is also the place where he’ll likely make lifelong friends. Thus, it is vital you keep abreast with whatever is going on in his school life by talking to him about it.

Trouble is, getting him to open up about school isn’t as easy as asking, “So, how’s school?” To make matters worse, it can get tougher once your tween becomes a teen. He’s going to be a lot more guarded and private about his personal matters and will hate you for butting your nose into everything. Hence, it’s vital that you tread carefully because it’s difficult to recover from communication breakdowns.

Remember you are initiating a conversation, not an interrogation. Being pushy and demanding is a guaranteed way to kill the conversation.

However, you shouldn’t let your kid’s preference for being tight-lipped stop you from trying out different methods of getting them to talk. Chatting about school won’t just satisfy your parental sense of curiosity, it allows you to…

*Help junior avoid potential problems Sometimes, your child lacks the experience and maturity needed to foresee possible issues. Or they could also be too caught up in their problems to realise what solutions they have at their disposal.

*Guide him in handling issues With the right words, your questions can encourage him to reflect on his actions and thought processes, and find alternative ways to address the issues.

Most times, it isn’t so much about your choice of words but the manner in which you say them that matters. Here are a few useful pointers to bear in mind:

1) Your tone of voice

Sounding aggressive or agitated isn’t the best way to initiate a conversation. Children tend to be a lot more sensitive to the changes in your pitch and intonation while speaking. Remember you are initiating a conversation, not an interrogation. Being pushy and demanding is a guaranteed way to kill the conversation.

2) Practise active listening

If you don’t seem remotely interested in the conversation, your kiddo will pick up on that and choose not to provide any more information than necessary. After asking questions, try not to interrupt or jump to conclusions when your child hasn’t finish saying what he wants to. When it comes to your turn to respond, refrain from sounding critical or judgemental of what he has recounted. If you feel strongly that he has done something wrong, your responses should be aimed at trying to help him reflect on his decision making. Try these follow-up questions: “Why did you do it?”, “Do you think you did the right thing?” and “How did that make you feel?" More active listening tips can be found here.

3) Select open-ended questions

You are setting yourself up for failure by asking questions that will get you a one-word answer. Open-ended questions — typically the what, why and how — help to keep the conversation going. It will also encourage junior to provide more information instead of ending the conversation prematurely with a simple yes or a no.  

Four more tips coming right up. Read on!