Have you ever picked your child up from school excited to learn about their day? You enthusiastically greet your little one with a smile and a “What did you do today?” only to receive the evasive (and common) answer of “nothing.”
While you know it’s not actually true that they did “nothing” all day, it’s sometimes equally frustrating and impossible to get a clear picture of what actually went on during the hours they were away from you. Here are five tips to help you figure it out:
- Ask specific and open ended questions. “What did you do today?” is a big question to a child, given that their attention spans are often very short. (As you know since you’ve asked your child to pick up his toys twenty times today and he keeps getting distracted. Or maybe that’s just me.) One of my favorite questions to ask after school pick up is “What was your favorite part of the day?” Sometimes I get an “I don’t know” but more often I get a neat answer about what stood out to my son that day. Asking a child to key in on a specific part of the day in an open ended way will lead to more details; exactly what you were looking for.
- Name drop. Little ones might not be too keen on telling you the specifics of the academics they did that day, but if you mention one of their friends you are probably opening the gate way for a story. “Did you get to play with (insert your child’s friend’s name here) today?” will probably lead to a story. You may find yourself thoroughly entertained.
- Be patient. Sometimes kids are tired at the end of the school day, so when they get to you they are ready for familiarity and comfort instead of a re-cap of a busy day. If your child doesn’t feel like talking right after pick up, try again at dinner time or bring it up as a bed time conversation. They might be more willing to open up after they’ve had some down time.
- Keep yourself informed. Usually teachers do a great job of sending home newsletters. Whether you receive this information weekly or monthly, make a note to yourself about the general subject matter being covered and when. Definitely try to stay on top of big events like field trips or special class visitors so you can ask more about it. “What did you think of the fire truck that came to visit you at school today?” (If your child is older than my preschooler your questions might be a bit more advanced.) Your child will be excited to tell you about it and will also probably be in awe of you for knowing exactly what happened even when you weren’t there. This is a good time to remind your child that you know a lot of stuff. You go, Mom.
- Ask! If all of your specific and open ended questions, name dropping, patience, and diligent newsletter checking is still leaving you in the dark, don’t be afraid to ask your child’s teacher to keep you in the loop. Teachers spend a lot of time creating those lesson plans and they would love for you to know what’s going on! A quick email or phone call can satisfy all of your unanswered questions.
What’s your favorite way to get your little one talking? Leave us a comment below so we can share with other moms and dads.