A child writing.

Back to school season is a hectic and stressful time for parents and children alike. Your child experiences change in their routine, earlier bedtimes and morning alarms, tedious shopping trips and haircuts, all while wondering, “Will my new teacher be nice? Will my friends be the same as last year? Will I get in trouble this year? Will my classmates be mean?”

Maybe your child is excited or maybe they have these worries and more. The best way to find out is to ask them. Opening opportunities for your kids to talk to you about whatever they are thinking is one of the best ways to set them up for a successful school year.

Great Back-to-School Questions to Ask Your Child

To get the conversation started with your children, I am sharing some of my favorite back-to-school questions. I hope they’ll help you learn what is on your child’s mind, let them know you’re listening and get more than “I don’t know” responses:

  • What are you most excited about this school year?
  • Is there anything that you hope will be different this year than it was last year?
  • Is there anything I can do to help you have a great start to the school year?
  • Who are you most excited to see this year?
  • If you could change one thing about school, what would it be?
  • What is your favorite memory from school so far?
  • Tell me about lunch (or recess) today?
  • What makes you feel good about yourself when you are at school?
  • Did anything surprising happen today? Was there anything that made you worried or sad? Is there anything coming up that you are excited about? Dreading?

If your child is hesitant to open up, some good times to try talking are while riding in the car or going for a walk. When we are side by side, rather than face to face it is often easier for kids to speak freely.

Be a Good Listener

Whether positive or otherwise, no matter what your children share with you, remember to listen and validate their perspectives. Be careful not to dismiss their feelings or jump too quickly to problem-solving.

To validate your child’s perspective, reflect or restate the thoughts and feelings they have shared and provide a comment that honors their experience. Easy examples of this include:

  • I can understand that. 
  • That makes sense to me. 
  • Thank you for telling me about that. 
  • I look forward to hearing more about that. 
  • Wow, that is amazing!  

By listening and letting them know you are interested, you provide a safe space for them to feel encouraged, no matter what they face at school. Whether the year brings many challenges or is smooth sailing, I hope the quick tips I’ve shared will help you connect with your child and build the foundation for great communication this school year.

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ChildServe improves the health and well-being of 4,600 children each year through specialized clinical, home, and community-based programs and services. We serve children with developmental delays, disabilities, injuries, and other special healthcare needs.

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