In less than 10 days, my kids will go back to school – and just in case you run into them in the next week or so, please do me a favor.
Do not ask them if they are sad about it.
Seriously, until you pose that leading question, it never even occurs to them that they should be sad. In fact, they’re actually quite excited about the start of a new school year.
Setting aside the hard reality that, for some kids, school is the one place where they feel safe, fed and cared for, let’s remember the promise that comes with a fresh set of school supplies and a brand new year ahead.
Think about it – they get to spend time with their friends learning interesting things from adults who care about them, they get to play sports and run around at recess, they get to read and draw and experiment and explore, they get to ask questions and investigate answers. What’s not to love?
Now, will they be sad when the pool closes in a couple weeks? Yes. Will they wish they could have a few more lazy mornings watching last night’s recorded Olympic events? Of course. Would they like an extra week’s vacation at the beach? Obviously.
But they are not sad about going back to school.
When you ask them the question that way, it implies that school is boring or hard or generally not a nice place to be. When you ask that question, you put the idea in their head that perhaps they shouldn’t be excited after all.
So instead, here’s what you can ask them:
▪ What good books did you read this summer?
▪ What are you most excited about for the new school year?
▪ What did you miss about school over the summer?
▪ What advice do you have for someone starting school for the first time?
▪ What was your favorite adventure or experience while you were out of school?
I promise those questions will do a lot more to encourage them – and the answers will be much more entertaining for you.
Cyndi Soter O’Neil, a former high school English teacher, has two children attending Wake County public schools.