Don’t Ask, “How is school?”

It goes without saying that school is now starting. If we went by store calendars, school time started after the day after the 4th of July.

I always used to start school after Labor Day, but this year my college classes start August 31st. I may or may not be rather bitter about this.

At any rate, school is in the air, no mater where you sniff.

All of my life people, have asked me about school making small talk. If you know anything about me, you know that the only thing I hate more than small talk is mint.

Small talk kills my enthusiasm and interest in any situation, and I have a hunch that I’m not alone in this. If you are anything like me, then you have been a part of a conversation that went something like this:

“Hi, how are you?”

“Good, how are you?”

“Good. How is school?”

“Good.”

This is petty, useless, uncomfortable small talk. Many times this conversation happens around family members, casual friends, or church members.

I’d like to propose to you an alternative.

If you are genuinely interested in the life of a school aged person, please ask intentional questions. Don’t just ask “yes or no” questions, but also don’t ask “good” questions.

“How’s school?”

“Good.”

“How was your field trip?”

“Good.”

Blah, blah, blah.

This small talk has always made me uncomfortable, but I didn’t know any way around it until someone I know asked me an intentional question.

I forget when it was, but an older man from our church would always greet me with a smile or hug. One Sunday, he posed the question,

“What is important in your life lately?”

Now, the service was about to start, so I knew I couldn’t spew out three points and a poem. His question impressed me, however, and I briefly told him about a novel contest I entered. He smiled and listened with genuine interest then we parted ways as we made our way into our seats.

Our exchange took maybe a few moments longer than a common “good” exchange would have. But this instance stuck in my mind. I can’t say that I know a great deal about this man, and he really doesn’t know much about me, but we shared this little tid-bit and bonded.

Now I know what you are thinking, you don’t have time to hear some kid’s life story about something important to them. You just want to acknowledge their existence and the fact that they are in school. You are just being polite, after all.

What a shallow existence you must have, my friend.

In all honesty, nothing in this life matters except for people. You may only have a minute or less to speak with a young person, but you know what? You can change their whole day with just a few words and a listening attitude.

Don’t be afraid to ask open-ended questions, especially if you want to get to know someone better!

“What big thing is going on in your life right now?”

“How do you spend your free time?”

“What has surprised you the most about this week so far?”

“’What is your goal for today?”

“What has excited you lately?”

“What is stressful in your life right now?”

I’m not saying that these questions are your key to unlocking the unending love of a young person.

I’m just suggesting, don’t ask “yes, no, or good” questions.

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Cat

I am a 7-year-old​ stuck in a twenty-something's body. I enjoy long walks on the beach and peanut butter on waffles. If the following combinations of letters mean anything to you: OYAN, LotR, F.R.O.G., AiO, OBPC, DIY Then we can be friends. And if not, we still can be friends!

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