What does your child do at school?

A young boy sitting in the classroom

At a glance

  • Ask your child what the teacher said about their work rather than what they did at school.
  • What children really want to know from their teacher is how they can do better.
  • Good feedback from teachers is very powerful when it comes to a child's learning. That's the information your child will want to share with you.

Have you ever asked your child what they did at school today only to receive the stock-standard "not much" or "nothing" response? Take heart. There is an easier way to get something out of 'nothing'.

Professor Stephen Dinham, a research director at the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER), says the best conversation starter about your child's day is not based on what they did at school but what the teacher has said to them about their work.

"Don't ask them what they did today, what they enjoyed at school or what they learnt," Stephen says.

"Ask them, 'What feedback did you get about your learning today?'"

In other words, "What did your teacher say about your work today?"

Stephen, who has done extensive research into the factors that help kids do well at school, says children have four needs – the most outstanding being how they can improve in their work.

"They want to know what they can do, what they can't do, how their work compares to others, but the one they really want to know is how they can do better," he says.

Good feedback from teachers can have an almost "immediate positive effect" on a child's learning, Stephen says. And it's that information that your children will want to share with you.


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