Helping Parents Ask the Right Questions for Better Overall Engagement

November 21, 2019

“How was your day?”

“Fine.”

“What did you do at school?”

“Stuff.”

………..

It’s no surprise that students don’t go home and joyfully recount their entire day to their parents.

Activities at home immediately take precedent and the rush of dinner and baths, irregular parent work schedules, or teenagers with after-school jobs can make daily conversations about school get pushed to the back-burner. Plus, at the end of the day, aren’t we all just tired?

That’s why when parents continually get one-word answers when asking about school, it can be easy to simply drop it. No one wants to add ‘pulling teeth’ to their end-of-day routine.

What is Parent Engagement?

Parent engagement happens in many different ways, but at its very simplest and most pure, it is the act of a parent showing interest, excitement, and support to their child about their education. That’s it.

Parent engagement happens in many different ways, but at its very simplest and most pure, it is the act of a parent showing interest, excitement, and support to their child about their education. That’s it.

Now, ideally, parent engagement grows into regular one-to-one communication with teachers, on-campus involvement, and overall buy-in with the district goals. But to see individual growth and development with the students in your classroom, you can start with helping parents ask questions that prompt better responses.

How to Help Parents with Questions

These questions are meant to be stolen. Copy and paste away! Send them in a broadcast message to every parent in your class. Text one to your parents every couple of days. Turn them into a graphic and post on your social media. Send specific questions to parents when a student is struggling with something.

Start the conversation any way you can. Relationships are the basis for everything else.

It can look like this:

Hello parents! Ask your child about the hot air balloons we are building in science class! Each group has to come up with their own design!

Or

Hello Parents! Here are some questions to ask your child about their first days of school:

  1. If we traded places tomorrow what advice would you give me for the day?
  2. What is your favorite place to sit to do work or read?
  3. Did anything make you feel stressed today?

Or

Hello Mr. Lee, Ellen seems to be feeling anxious about the afternoon block of classes. Here are some potential questions to start a conversation:

  1. What were you grateful for today?
  2. What parts of school make you nervous?
  3. Did you ever feel unsure?

Or

Hello Parents! Having trouble getting your child to talk to you about school? Try some unconventional questions to start a fun conversation!

  1. Who would run the school if the zombie apocalypse happened?
  2. What would you change if you were the principal?

Or text them this set of questions!

Add a subheading-1


The Outcomes

Studies show parent engagement results in higher test scores, reduces absenteeism and builds parent confidence in their children’s education. That can mean better funding for the district and improved accountability rankings. All that sounds pretty great, but let’s just focus our efforts on some small goals. Don’t think about district grades or attendance levels just yet.

The first step is simply showing parents YOU care. Show them you will listen. Show them they are welcome to be a part of their student’s journey.

Your goal is to engage them in conversation and to help them engage with their children. That’s it. Accountability, achievement, assessments...all that can come later. Let’s just get parents communicating. It's as simple as sending a text message.

The Questions

General Questions for Parents to Ask

  1. What is your teacher’s most important rule?
  2. What surprised you about your teachers?
  3. Did the day seem long or short?
  4. If we traded places tomorrow what advice would you give me for the day?
  5. What is your favorite place to do work or read?
  6. What is the best thing about lunchtime?
  7. What rules are different at school than our rules at home? Do you think they're fair?
  8. Are there cliques at school?
  9. What was the best part of your day?

Social and Emotional Questions for Parents to Ask their Kids

  1. When did you feel appreciated at school today?
  2. What were you grateful for today?
  3. What were you NOT grateful for today?
  4. Did anything make you feel stressed today?
  5. Provide ways to talk about emotions: Are you angry, or are you: frustrated, disappointed, hurt?
  6. What made you smile today? Did it make other people smile?
  7. Can you tell me an example of kindness you saw/showed?
  8. Did you ever feel unsafe?
  9. What do you wish you did more of today?
  10. Who did you sit with at lunch?
  11. What is your favorite thing to play on the playground?
  12. Tell me something you learned about a friend today.
  13. What rule is the hardest to follow?
  14. What were you most proud of today?
  15. Were you nice to someone new today?
    New call-to-action

Examples of Questions About What You are Doing in Class - customize these to the projects you are currently working on.

  1. What is most challenging about your coding project?
  2. Do you like group work better or working alone?
  3. Do you feel like the deadline for ‘X’ project is long enough?
  4. What was something that you read today?
  5. What was the best question someone asked in class?

Or say in a text message:

  1. Ask your child about finishing his design project!
  2. Joy was the leader in her group project, ask her how she likes leading!
  3. Hayes did not do very well on his math test, but we talked about his answers, and he is understanding fractions better now! I think it’s an achievement! Ask him to show you what he learned.

Questions to Get Their Attention

  1. What would be the most perfect day at school? Anything goes.
  2. If you could design your school uniform, what would it look like?
  3. Would you rather go to an underwater school, or a school in a treehouse?
  4. What would you change if you were the principal?
  5. If the cafeteria only served one food all year, what would you want it to be?
  6. What would you like to learn in school the most?
  7. Would you rather be able to fly around your school, or be invisible?
  8. If you could give yourself a nickname that teachers at school would have to call you, what would it be?
  9. Can you tell me a funny story about what happened in school today?

For Parents of Students in High School

  1. Direct parents to the ACT question of the day.
  2. Take a picture of the exit question and send that to parents in a text message.
  3. Direct parents to the SAT question of the day.

Remember, the main goal is to open up a line of communication between you and the parent, and between parents and the kids. A response from a parent is a win! A conversation over text, or on the phone is a huge step in making parents feel welcome and promoting their agency within the education system. Big changes can be made, but a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step text.

Parent Communication Tool Kit

Recent Posts

   

Subscribe to Email Updates