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Better Parents?

[Economics expert Andreas] Schleicher explained to [Thomas L. Friedman] that “just asking your child how was their school day and showing genuine interest in the learning that they are doing can have the same impact as hours of private tutoring."

Oooh, ooh, I have this down. I am so glad to know that conversations like the following will lead to ratcheted-up test scores, according to the New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman. His piece yesterday called for "better parents" and better parental involvement in children's education.

Picture this: a suburban mom picking up her 12 year old from school. Son settles into front seat of car.

Mom (brightly): How was your day?

Son (with indifference): Good.

Mom waits for more information. Mom hears none. Mom tries to think of engaging topic.

Mom: What did you have for lunch?

Son: [Long sigh.] I forgot. Maybe a sandwich? 

Mom, so devoted to her own lunch that she cannot believe anyone could forget what he ate, ponders a new subject.

Mom: So, I guess you played soccer at P.E.?

Perhaps the kind-of-a-statement/kind-of-a-question format will work.

Son [Shorter sigh, more like a huff]: We ALWAYS play soccer. It's soccer season. I'm gonna turn on the radio, okay?

I have more tips for great test-score-raising talks like this. Just ask!


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I feel ya. I have had some success with a tip I picked up on t.v. (!) years back -- to try talking with boys while doing activities with them. I've definitely gotten more response from my son while playing basketball than while working home from school with him.

Hahahah! Because of YOUR mad conversational skills, your child is obviously brilliant.

Love it, Sue! Ah, those preteen years... And I'll resist the temptation to rant about how out of touch Mr. Friedman is about, well, just about everything. (Anyone need reminding about what a great idea the Iraq War was?)

Wendy, yes, thanks for the tip. I think I'm learning my lesson about talking too much right after school...

TadMack, ha ha. Yes, mad skillz indeed!

Michelle, the good news is that I got over my own preteen years by age 40. Ha. Who in the world was Friedman addressing with his stale information? The choir, at best.

That's funny. I think I had exactly the same conversation with my 13-year-old son just the other day. Interestingly, he gets very chatty around 9:30 pm, and is willing and eager to share all sorts of things about his day. Unfortunately I'm about ready to doze off by then . . .

Linda, ha! J. also hides under the hood of his sweatshirt to avoid the questions. But if I really want to cause some trouble, I starting singing along to the radio. "Mom, stop it! People will see you. Mom, really."

I've had those conversations with Lucas and even Max, who is only in Kindergarten. So jaded, these small ones.

I know!

I guess I love my lunch too much. I'd never forget what I had.

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