Questions to Engage Students

As a new school year starts, it can be a challenging and even downright difficult time for students — especially if they are starting kindergarten, have transitioned into middle or high school or have moved to a new school in a new community. It can be stressful, and some kids may not even know how to talk about it — especially if they are also experiencing emotions related to those teenage hormones! Apex Leadership Company encourages parents and guardians to keep the lines of communication open. This can start with a few simple questions to get the conversation going when they get home from school instead of simply asking “how was your day?”. Below are just a few ideas:

Who is your favorite teacher? (And why?)

What is the funniest thing that happened today?

Who did you sit with at lunch?

Which friend makes you laugh the most?

Who do you wish you were friends with? (And why?)

What did you do at recess?

What’s the coolest thing you learned today?

Did you see any new faces at school today?

What was the hardest or most confusing thing you learned? (And do you need any more help understanding it?)

Did you learn anything that surprised you today?

What’s your favorite subject? (… besides recess and lunch!)

If you could change anything about school, what would it be?

If you could teach any subject, what would it be?

Would you ever want to trade places with your teacher for a day? If so, which one would you switch with — and why?

Tell me something you learned today.

Did anything make you smile today?

Did anything make you sad?

It’s important to consider the age range of children when parents and guardians are prompting a conversation. For example, a young child might enjoy an entire conversation stemming from the question “what’s your favorite color today?” while that same question could very well elicit an eyeroll from a teen.

For parents that are tempted to pry if a child is unusually quiet or seems sad but “doesn’t want to talk about it,” Apex suggests a different approach. Save the questions for another time and instead offer a hug or a little hand squeeze, a cookie or to draw a warm bath. Sometimes children need to process things internally and in their own time before they are ready to talk about it. However, if a child that is usually chatty suddenly starts to clam up consistently, there may be something more going on and the parent should watch for cues in other areas and be direct when they feel they need to in order to make sure everything is okay.