Why Won’t My Son Talk About His Day at School?

Eli SchoolI’ve seen plenty of movies where the exasperated dad tries to connect with his teen son or daughter by asking about their day at school.

The response is usually the same – a half-hearted shrug followed by a grunt. Teenagers don’t like to share, we’re told, and they’re especially resistant to discussing the inner workings of high school. It’s an emotionally toxic time, when the rush of hormones meets the pressures of the adult world.

That shouldn’t be the case with my four-year-old son, Elijah. Yet if I get so much as a half-hearted shrug when I pick him up from pre-preschool I consider it a victory. Sometimes I spike an imaginary football to honor the moment.

What gives?

Fast Learner

Elijah didn’t suffer through any obvious nerves when he first starting going to school. He quickly embraced the concept, found new friends and discovered teachers who took great care with him and his fellow classmates.

Frankly, how they keep a class full of four-year-olds under such firm but loving control is a miracle.

The best I can get each day are snippets of his school experiences. He’ll mention something about a Humpty Dumpty story that I’ll try to piece back together, but the revelation is over before it began. Or, he’ll describe a cupcake he snarfed down during class, but once more the information spigot shuts off.

What I really want to see is how he interacts with his peers. Is he as funny and dear in school as he is at home? Is he getting picked on? Does he speak in that insanely annoying voice he adopts when he meets a stranger for the first time?

The challenges of school haven’t truly begun yet. His school days mostly involve crafts, playing outdoors and one party after another. Lindsay Lohan doesn’t live it up like my son and his classmates. We haven’t even approached the days of bullying, report cards and, gulp, school crushes.

Any suggestions on how I can get Eli to open up about his school daze? I fear the little information I get from him now may be the most I ever receive in the years to come.


  1. Beth Trapani says

    TOTALLY and completely normal. Ask ANY other parent of boys and they will tell you EXACTLY the same thing. It’s no cause for worry! Truthfully after spending a day in their classroom I would be at a loss to tell you what happened, too — because they do so many things/activities and keep the day moving so much!

    If you want to know more, schedule a time to go hang out as a parent volunteer in his classroom for a few hours… it’s so much fun to spy on them and he will love it! I do it several times a year.

    Also – specific questions: Did your teacher read any stories today? Did you have a snack? What kinds of toys did you play with, etc.? rather than just, “What did you do?”

  2. says

    Wait for a quiet moment with just the two of you, say during a snack. Then ask if he did anything special today? Perhaps this will open a line of communication. When he first gets in the car, he has all sorts of outside stimuli. So make sure its just the two of you.

  3. Ronco says

    I’m no child psychologist, but it sounds as if he might – might – be troubled by the forced socializiation in school. Is Eli normally introverted? Does his extroversion blossom only with you and his brother? The false voice that he adopts in front of strangers could be a way of concealing the same sense of unease with a new/ changing relationships. Nothing fatal, but the tracks that public schooling and socializing lay down for young souls may never really nurture their latent talents and abilities. Maybe it’s just me – I am strongly biased against what I’ve seen and experienced in these arenas.

    • Beth Trapani says

      If you have any concerns, talk to his teacher. I think it’s 110% normal – especially for boys – especially at this age!

  4. admin321 says

    Ronco – that annoying voice used to be more common with him. Lately, he’s getting better when he greets strangers. But your points are interesting, and I really appreciate them. So much to consider with wee ones.

    Beth – I’ll try more specific questions and see if that helps.

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