By Shannon Lindquist Social Emotional Health Educator for Michigan State University Extension OSCEOLA COUNTY \u2014\u00a0School has started and all across Michigan parents are asking a familiar question: What happened at school\u00a0today? All across our great state kids are telling us ... "nothing." \u00a0Getting kids to share what happened during\u00a0the school day can be difficult and frustrating. Parenting experts Dr. Charles Fay and Dr. Michele Borba, along with\u00a0Lynn Gibson, child care expert, offer suggestions for starting conversations that will elicit more than a single\u00a0word when you ask that important question. Time: Give your kids some down time after they burst through the door; time to be noisy, grab a snack, change\u00a0clothes and play. As anxious as you are to hear about their day, bombarding them with questions the minute\u00a0they walk in the door doesn\u2019t give them any breathing space. Questions: Your child isn\u2019t on the witness stand. Refrain from firing one question after another at them. Less\u00a0can be more when getting information. Think like a child: What stories do your kids already tell you about school? What do they talk about related\u00a0to school? Thinking about these two questions can work as "ice breakers" for getting the conversation rolling. Role model: Kids notice how adults talk to each other. Share how your day went with your significant other.\u00a0The dinner table is a great place for this conversation to take place. Share something that would be of interest\u00a0to the whole family, like a friend who attended a movie you\u2019ve been talking of seeing. When adults share their\u00a0day with the whole family, kids will be encouraged to join in with their parents and to start their own\u00a0conversations. Time: Start conversations when you have time to really listen. Children know if you are engaged in the\u00a0conversation. I was once told over the phone, "You are using the same voice mom uses when she isn\u2019t really\u00a0listening." I have never forgotten that comment from my niece and it happened 27 years ago! You know\u00a0you\u2019re interested in what your child has to say, but if your actions tell a different story, there will be no\u00a0conversation and your child will quit making an effort. Comments: Once your kids start talking limit your comments and use your "good listening ears." Use non-threatening comments such as "Wow!" or "That must have made everyone pay attention" or "Un huh." A sure\u00a0way to stop a conversation is to interrupt and start lecturing or objecting to what your child is telling you. That\u00a0discussion can happen later, unless it\u2019s a safety issue which of course needs to be dealt with immediately. Multi-tasking: Dr. Fay states "kids are more likely to talk about stuff when they are playing or doing\u00a0something that\u2019s fun." So ... grab the basketball, go on a walk, begin a table game and see what happens. The\u00a0focus is then on the activity taking pressure off the child to "report." Questions: It\u2019s all about how you ask a question and open ended questions work best. Instead of "Do you have\u00a0homework?" Do your homework first by checking out the backpack. Is it loaded down with books? Is it\u00a0empty? Your comment can be, "I noticed your backpack was empty, wow how did that happen?" Backpack\u00a0full? A comments such as, "I see you were loaded down with books tonight, what all do you need to\u00a0accomplish tonight?" Creative: Change up your questions from time to time so your first exchange at the end of the day with your\u00a0kids isn\u2019t always predictable and automatic. Providing opportunities for conversations, listening and asking the right questions will foster communication\u00a0and enhance your relationships with your children. These skills can also help children make their way in the\u00a0world. For more information on healthy relationships, communication and parenting skills, visit the Michigan\u00a0State University Extension website msue.msu.edu.