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Get Your Student Talking About School

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As parents, we want to hear our students talk about their school day, but often our standard question doesn’t lend itself to what we really want to hear.

Asking students, “What did you do today?” returns answers like, “We played outside. We had gym. We made a volcano.” Statements like these tell you a little about what transpired throughout their day, but it doesn’t get to the meat of the story.


What you really want to be asking is, “What did you learn at school today?” This question produces more in-depth answers. You now get responses like, “We learned how to multiply,” or “We learned why a volcano erupts!”

This slight shift in language can change your evening conversations so that you can better support your student’s learning.

Supporting Learning

If you still have a reluctant talker, there are additional ways to encourage them to speak about school. Try a 3-2-1 strategy. Ask your student to state the following:

     •  3 things they learned

     •  2 interesting facts           

     •  1 question they still have

This strategy allows you to get a quick sense of what content was covered, where your student’s interests lie, and where you can help to support their learning (whether through an informal conversation or homework help).

What Does It Look Like?

Imagine you have a fourth grader. She was always excited about school in the past, but this year she seems to be less enthusiastic, especially in math. You ask her about her day, and she just shrugs and avoids the subject.

Concerned, you are uncertain if she’s struggling with the content or being bullied by a classmate. By asking the 3-2-1 questions, you slowly start to learn more about what’s going on at school. For instance, one day she says:

     •  3   We learned elapsed time; we explored why ice floats; and we learned about William Penn.

     •  2   Did you know that water expands when it’s frozen? That’s why pipes burst! Did you know that all snowflakes have 6 sides?

     •  1   I don’t understand why I can’t add and subtract time like other numbers and why it’s even important when I never see a clock face anywhere.

Quickly, you realized your daughter loves science but is struggling with elapsed time. This scenario is not uncommon, and now you know how you can help her. Not only can you help her with learning about time, you can talk with her teacher and explore ways to support her learning.

SusieSusan Emmett has been with Lincoln Learning Solutions more than 3 years. Her current role is Director of Product. Her experience includes more than 8 years in teacher professional development and nearly 8 years as an elementary school teacher. Susan’s passion is all about student achievement.