How many of you have ever asked your child, “What did you do at school today?” to hear, “Nothing” or complete silence as a reply? This is the scenario for one of my children, whereas the other can’t wait to share. Both of my children love going to school and learning, it’s just that one is not a big talker depending upon the topic. What I have realized is the need to be more specific in my questioning. For example, I ask “What book did your teacher read today?” or “What did you learn in math?” Additionally, starting the conversations with their interests typically provokes more talk. An example of this is the class goes to the school library every Tuesday, so I start with “What books did you get from the library?” Then, I can scaffold the conversation to support the other academic areas.
This phenomenon does not just happen at home, kids do the same at school with their teachers. My work lately has involved creating a focus question for literacy instruction. However, a lone tree does not make a forest. So, the teachers have been taking this a step further by creating scaffolded questions to support the focus question. Based upon the state standard, a question to spark inquiry to the learning outcome is created. Then, teachers dissect the learning into parts to create questions to build students up to the learning goal. Additionally, extension questions are considered for students who have a solid understanding of the learning from the get-go. The questions enable teachers to differentiate instruction to meet the needs of the variety of learners in the classroom.
Know you are not alone and the next time you want to know about your child’s day at school, think of a more specific question to ask (maybe about his/her favorite subject or a certain time in the school day). Do not give up because in time the conversation will become more fluid.