share our amazing stories to your network

Parents As Learning Partners – Jennifer Oaten

Mother,And,Daughter,Having,A Conversation,about learning at school

As a parent, I often asked my children, “How was school today?” Their response was always ‘good,’ followed by “What’s for dinner?”. This typical exchange leaves many high school parents feeling disconnected from their child’s educational experience. But is this silence because teenagers have nothing to say, or are we simply not asking the right questions.

The Importance of Open Communication with Teenagers

Adolescence is a challenging time for both parents and teens, making open communication essential. Engaging with your teenager about their learning can be difficult but incredibly valuable. Encouraging young people to articulate their thoughts helps build their confidence, self-advocacy, and ability to seek support or extension in their learning.

Effective Questions to Spark Meaningful Discussions

To foster meaningful conversations, parents should ask open-ended, thought-provoking questions that encourage deep thinking and reflection. Here are some questions designed to spark discussion and connection about school, learning, and friendships:

  • What did you learn today in [subject]?
  • What was challenging at school today?
  • What went well at school?
  • What topic do you want to learn more about?
  • Was there anything you disagreed with today?
  • Did you talk to someone new today? Who?
  • Did you help anyone with their learning? Did anyone help you?
  • What was the best part of your day? Why?
  • What surprised you today?
  • How did that make you feel? Why?
  • Why do you think that happened?
  • What’s your opinion on that? What other perspectives might exist?
  • What could you do differently next time?
  • How do you think you could solve this problem?
  • How can I better support your learning?
Engaged family conversation about education.

Listening and Reflecting: Key Strategies for Parents

Listening is crucial. Avoid the impulse to solve their problems for them or to justify their feelings. Instead, focus on connecting and understanding. Teenagers often seek validation for their thoughts and opinions rather than wanting your advice.

Reflecting on your child’s school experiences may bring up memories of your own. Whether you had negative experiences or were a confident student, it is important to empathise with your child’s unique positives or challenges. If you feel upset with the school or individuals, take some time to process your feelings before addressing the issue with your child. Often, a good night’s sleep can provide both you and your teenager with a fresh perspective.

Highlighting Positives and Supporting Curiosity

Teens may fixate on the negatives, overlooking the positive aspects of their day. While it is important to address challenges, make sure to highlight the positives as well. Schools and parents can collaborate to create environments that nurture curiosity and a love for learning.

Curiosity drives engagement and motivation, leading young people to explore subjects more deeply. This passion for learning equips them to navigate an increasingly complex and interconnected world. By encouraging young people to ask questions, explore their interests, and form their own opinions, we provide them with the tools to thrive.

Encouraging Lifelong Learning

Encouraging curiosity helps children develop critical thinking skills, creativity, and a lifelong love for learning. These skills prepare them for a world where the ability to ask questions and seek answers is invaluable. In today’s workplaces, the ability to reflect on learning and work processes is crucial for success.

These questions can encourage young people to reflect, improve and grow in their approach to learning. They can also help parents get a comprehensive understanding of their child’s academic progress, social interactions, and overall well-being at school and better support their child’s learning.

Mother,And,Daughter,Having,A Conversation,about learning at school

Parents As Learning Partners – Jennifer Oaten

This blog provides insight into how parents can become effective learning partners for their teenagers by asking thoughtful, open-ended questions. It highlights the importance of curiosity and reflection in fostering a love for learning and equips parents with practical strategies to support their child’s academic and personal growth.

Read More »
Scroll to Top