8 Coaching Questions to get Your Student Talking

Mom and Daughter talking ADHD

Are you missing something? Something important? Maybe and maybe not.

Seems our kids come home from school and either say nothing about their day or they chatter you up and down until bedtime.

It keeps parents on their toes when you got both and maybe something in between. You feel like you’re firing round after round of questions at one kid and shushing the other.

In all the after school chaos of homework, practices, carpools, dinner and if you’re really on top of things, a decent bedtime, us parents are plain ol’ worn out.

We have great intentions. We want to know what’s going on with our kiddo’s at school. We want to know if they need help.

These 8 coaching questions help start or redirect talks with your kids. Stay tuned in and you’ll hear where your student needs support. 

  1. You ask: I was wondering what is happening in your classroom when you start paying attention to things other than the teacher.
    Your child says: Sometimes people come into the classroom and my teacher has to stop talking. Then when she comes back we start doing something different.
    Decoded: I need a structured environment with a dependable routine. I need some notice to prepare myself for something new.
  2. You ask: Please describe some of the things hung on the walls in your classroom?
    Your child says: Oh ya, there are so many fun things too look at. I could look at all that stuff forever.
    Decoded: I like bright, sparkly things. Visual things keep my attention more than auditory “listening” things. Maybe I’m a visual learner.
  3. You say: I remember the other day you were talking about how much you like science. What is it you like about it so much?
    Your child says: I like doing the experiments, talking to my partner, and mostly not having to sit at my desk.
    Decoded: I need hands-on and body movement. I like to learn through my sense of touch. I may be a kinesthetic learner.
  4. You ask: You told me math is your hardest subject. Do you know why?
    Your child says: My teacher talks too fast.
    Decoded: Wait for me, I’m still thinking. When I feel rushed I get confused, frustrated and upset.
  5. You ask: How does it feel to raise your hand and ask a question?
    Your child says: I don’t want to raise my hand to ask a question because the other kids will think I’m stupid.
    Decoded: I’m afraid my teacher will say how she already explained that. I need her to tell me again in different words, using a signal or a symbol. I may need a lot of examples before I “get it.”
  6. You ask: I notice how hard you worked on your math homework. There are still a lot of problems left to answer. Can I help somehow?
    Your child says: It’s too hard. I don’t know what I’m doing and I’ll never finish all of it anyway.
    Decoded: Seeing all those problems overwhelms me and makes me anxious. Please help me break down my homework in chunks…..small goals I can do and feel good about. I need immediate feedback to know if I’m doing it right.
  7. You ask: When the teacher says not to raise your hand but you do anyway, why do you do that?
    Your child says: I want to say something and if I don’t it really hurts my head to keep it inside.
    Decoded: I learn best when I can talk about what I’m learning. I’m afraid I’ll forget what I’m thinking if I have to wait to say it.
  8. You ask: Your teacher says the last couple times she started teaching something new, you haven’t really tried to learn. Why do you think that happens?
    Your child says: Even if I learn it I won’t do it perfect. I’ll still get yelled at even if I do try.
    Decoded: Remind me and yourself of my good points. Praise me for the things I do right and for my effort, not just the results. Catch me doing something right especially on my bad days.

Parent Coaching Tips:

  • Wait to ask questions when your kid is NOT in a state of distress, tired, anxious, or frustrated.
  • Ask questions with an open-mind, free of judgement.
  • To keep the conversation going use open-ended questions. Do not use questions that are easy to answer with a simple “yes” or “no”.
  • Be curious. You’re a detective.
  • Don’t offer solutions. Instead ask your student what he thinks might work better.
  • Offer empathy and compassion. Acknowledge your student’s feelings but don’t hang out at a pity party.
  • There’s always tomorrow. Be patient. All the answers won’t come at once.

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3 Comments on “8 Coaching Questions to get Your Student Talking

  1. I appreciate the information and tips on coaching and getting a kid with ADHD to talk. I agree that it is important for the child to feel like they are comfortable and that they can talk freely, if they are in a state of distress or they are anxious it can cause them to stay quiet. My brother-in-law has a daughter that has ADHD and he is having a hard time with her, I will be sure to share this information with him.

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