Seven Questions to Ask Your Child About School

By Dr. Raymond Huntington

Ready to make this new year a great one? Start things off right with open, honest communication with your child about school and how to go into the second half of the school year with the right attitude. Here are several questions to ask your student as you start the spring semester that will help ignite your child’s motivation and self-empowerment:

  1. What subjects interest you the most? At any age, it is great to get a student thinking about their strengths and the subjects they find the enjoyable. Talk with your child about what grabs their attention, and be sure to take opportunities to point out how different school subjects translate into different career paths.
  2. What subjects challenge you the most? You might already know the answer, but it is important for you to talk with your child about their thoughts on the matter. The self-reflection will do your child good and can offer you the opportunity to bring up ideas on how your child can make improvements.
  3. What teachers do you enjoy and why? Even for elementary school students with a main classroom teacher, it’s important to ask about the other teachers with whom they interact each day. This can give your child insight into their learning style too. If your high school student appreciates the math teacher’s teaching style best, it might be because they like hands-on practice opportunities. If your middle schooler loves reading and the English teacher’s lectures, it could be that their preference is auditory learning.
  4. What’s usually your hardest homework? Ask your child about homework that pushes them and how they generally like to approach it. This can foster some thinking around prioritization, which is critical for time management essentials. It’s also good to hear your child consider what homework challenges them the most and why.
  5. What’s the biggest difference between this year and the prior grade? It’s always worthwhile to help your child point out how they have grown, so if your child has made strides since the prior grade, help them take note of what those are. However, if your child’s grades or motivation have decreased since last year, it’s still worthwhile to open the lines of communication. What is different about the school setting from your child’s perspective? The teachers and classes? Your child’s attitude?
  6. What do you feel the most confident/least confident about in school right now? While some children open up when asked what they like and dislike about school, others will not. It’s possible that your child feels confident about a subject that they don’t necessarily like, so try reframing to ask about the subjects that your child feels they understand. Confidence is key to school success. And it’s important that children understand the link between feeling confident and successful in school.
  7. What are you looking forward to in each subject or class? This question might encourage your child to open up about what they’ve heard from their teacher(s) is on the short- and long-term horizon. Maybe there’s something they’re curious about or a topic they hope their teacher digs into more throughout the rest of the school year.

As parents, it’s easy to think that every conversation about school needs to involve talking about grades, homework and tests. While those are important things to discuss, it’s equally important to keep in touch with your child about what sparks their interest, what they find hard about school, what they think about the future, and their curiosities. Keep asking those questions! The more you do, the more you’ll notice your child sharing with you.