October 9 Home CommunicatorCommunication Comes in Many Forms

On Friday, October 5, the middle school students, staff, and a number of parents of middle schoolers visited ArtPrize Ten in downtown Grand Rapids. It was a rainy day, but that did not dampen our enthusiasm for the experience. Among the hundreds of pieces we saw, we were able to see the majority of the artwork that were in the Top 20 of the Public Voting. There was such a diverse range of pieces and art mediums used to create them. It was interesting to note that there was one commonality that they all shared – they all communicated a message. Often the students first looked at a piece of art and made a comment about it. What was interesting was when they then took the time to read the artist’s statement about the piece, they often reacted with – “Oh, now it understand it better!” “Oh, that is what it is saying!” “Sweet, this is really interesting!’ Yes, it took time to really understand and appreciate the message. Isn’t that true of all communication?

“How Was School Today?”

I am sure that you have asked this question – or one similar – many times when you see your child/children at the end of a school day. I assume, that as you ‘go up’ in the grades, the answers to this type of question for many of you become shorter and contain few details. Once students reach middle school, many become experts of the one or two word answers. There are more things happening at school of which you need to be made aware but you find your child communicating less.

Here are some questions that you can ask which might help you have deeper discussions with your child and draw out important information. You may need to slightly modify the wording to fit your child’s age. (More questions to come in future opening articles.):

  1. Tell me about a moment today when you felt excited about what you were learning.
  2. Tell me about a moment in class when you felt confused.
  3. Think about what you learned and did in school today. What’s something you’d like to know more about? What is a question you have that came from your learning?
  4. Where there times today when you felt that one of your classmates demonstrated care for you?
  5. Were there any moments when you felt proud of yourself?

How and when you ask these questions makes a big difference in the information you receive. You don’t want to ask all of them on the same day – maybe ask just one or two. You will also want to ask at a time when you have the ability to focus so that your child feels they have your full attention – driving in the car and supper can be great times for this. If you get into a habit of these conversations it becomes routine, and it will be amazing how it keeps open the lines of communication. It takes time to develop this kind of communication, but it is certainly worth it.

Yours in Christ,

Mary Broene, Middle School Principal

Excerpts from “15 Questions to replace ‘How Was School Today?’” Elena Aguilar. Edutopia.