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Grand Isle School is a welcoming community where every family and staff member is invested in our students. We recognize and celebrate the whole child. We provide an equal opportunity and the right supports so all students and adults are successful. We practice positive and collaborative teaming and teaching throughout the school.

School Talk • Friday, November 3rd

How was school today? To a parent it seems like an easy question. It shows an honest interest in your child’s school experience. So why is it so difficult to get a satisfactory answer? Most of the time the question is answered with a one-word answer like “fine” or “okay”. Sometimes we only get a shrug for a response.
There isn’t one right way or one perfect question or even the perfect time to ask the question. So what is a parent to do?
Many of the Grand Isle teachers are also parents. We have experienced or are experiencing the unresponsiveness to this basic question with our own children. We polled our staff to get ideas or suggestions on how we managed to learn about our students’ school day experiences.

When Should We Ask?
It is suggested that we give the student a little time before hitting them with the big question. Give your child a big, enthusiastic greeting at the end of the school day and then give them a little time before asking about the day. Your child may need a snack or chill-out a bit before talking about their day. Allow your child not to talk about school immediately after the school day.
Dinnertime may be a natural time to share information about the day. The conversation could be a mutual sharing of the day’s events. You can start the conversation with stories from your work day and that may naturally lead into stories about the child’s day.
Some families have game nights or some other fun tradition. These recreational family times could be safe times to ask about the school day.
One suggestion is to use the child’s backpack as a conversation starter. With younger students a daily cleaning out of the book bag may promote discussion. Usually there will be notes or graded papers or newsletters that can be shared and used as discussion prompters. Be careful! Middle school students may view this as an invasion of privacy.

Where Should We Ask?
Several people suggested that asking the question in the car may be the best location. The idea is to question without having a face to face interrogation. When you are driving you are focused on the road and are facing away from the student. Another example is asking the child while you are cooking or washing the dishes. You should maintain interest but avoid the constant face to face discussion. It tends to be a more natural conservation without confrontation.
Some parents closely monitor their children’s homework time. Use the assignments as a springboard to conversation. Sometimes you can make connections between schoolwork and home events. Having a consistent homework time is important. Even if there is no homework assigned, the student could read a book so as to stay consistent. Talking about books may lead to school day discussions.

How Should We Ask?
We should be informed questioners. The more you already know about your student’s school experience, the more valuable or specific your questions will be. Here is a short list of ways of becoming more informed about your student’s school day:

Get to know your student’s teachers and other staff members.
Volunteer in the classroom
Attend evening activities like concerts or sporting events
Read the Wildcat Wisdom (this is a weekly school newsletter that is sent home with the youngest child at the end of the week)
Be a chaperone for field trips or dances
Visit the classroom
Attend parent/teacher conferences
Some teachers use social media as a communication tool
View your middle school child’s grades on Jupiter Grades

When we are informed we can ask more specific questions.
Allow the conversation to emerge naturally. Be patient. This may mean that you listen before you talk. Many times a student will drop hints of school happenings in their conversations. If you are listening carefully you may have a natural opening for a school based conversation. Try not to interrupt their sharing. Asking many questions may frustrate the student. Save your questions to the end.

Hopefully your child will eventually talk to you about the school day. Be a good listener and ask pertinent questions. As you effectively communicate with your child, you will be able to help them with their challenges and share with their celebrations. It truly is worth the effort.

Posted by on 2017-11-03

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