If you’ve ever asked your child “what’d you learn at school today, dear?” you know that (if you get an answer at all) you’ll probably hear “nothing.” If you inquire about their day, it’s the same as yesterday – “fine.”

Lake Highlands High School social studies teacher Casey Boland has words of encouragement for us as parents – don’t stop trying.

Casey wrote a piece for Saturday’s Dallas Morning News mourning the loss of “good, old-fashioned conversation” as a way to keep young people engaged. It’s a valuable tool in the classroom, she says, and just as important around the dinner table at home. “For too many students, being talked at is their main communication with adults.”

Even though your kid may come home and say in class today “we just talked,” or if, according to the official lesson plan, they were “off topic,” she says, “conversations are an essential element.” A discussion of Josh Hamilton’s latest baseball stats may segue way into a historical discussion of Alexander Hamilton’s economic plan.

In their book “How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk,” Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish stress “listening with full attention,” a difficult feat in today’s busy families. They also offer some shockingly simple words to keep in your arsenal – “oh,” “mmm,” and “I see.” Instead of offering long-winded advice or jumping in to solve problems when kids finally open up, they say, the simple act of active listening builds the strongest bonds.

Getting kids to converse while texting with their friends? That’s fodder for another blog another day.