We know you are eager to know how your child’s day went.
What did they do? What did they learn?
The challenge is that these questions might be too vague and not “interesting” enough to a child to get them talking.
You’ll be surprised what you can learn about your children when you get them to start chatting about their day.
Plus, if they are having difficulty or a problem at school hopefully they’ll open up a little more so you can figure out what’s going on.
Does this sound familiar?
You pick up your child from school, buckle them into their car seat and as you are starting to pull away from the school:
Parent: “How was your day?”
Parent: “What did you do today?”
Here are a few different questions to try when attempting to jumpstart the conversation:
They will likely say “the playground” was their favorite part of the day. This does not mean that they are not busy learning and working in the classroom.
Of course, outside play is the favorite part of the day – it’s everyone’s favorite part of the day!
The point is to get your child feeling comfortable and talking to you.
Understanding your child’s favorite playground or classroom activity can be a doorway to an entire conversation:
“Did you get a turn with the scooter?”
These questions can begin with your child as young as 2.5 years old. Keep at it. I assure you that the same questions will come in handy when they are young teenagers and they return to “one word” answers.
It’s also important not to ask too many questions. Pick a few a day to concentrate on and mix it up.
In the Montessori environment, your child will participate in many activities to prepare them to hold a pencil. It is very important that the hand is properly trained and ready to begin writing. Be patient, this process should never be rushed. Pretty soon, your child will have what we call “an explosion into reading”. During this time, they are busy building words with the materials in the classroom. Writing on paper will come, it will. Once it does, you will start to see their “writing work”. Until then, you may see some art projects in their file, but that might be it.
Rather than have children trace letters, or repetitively copy letters or words, we use “Metal Inset Work”. The Metal Insets are very interesting to children and more effectively train the hand for precise writing, when they are ready. If you start to see 5 x 5 squares of paper come home, with a geometric shape traced in one to three colors using colored pencils, this is the “Writing Training” you are looking for. You will see the Metal Inset work improve with detail and intricacy. Children really love this work.
So, what else is happening during the day, when your child comes home empty-handed?
Just a few, a peak into the day
Think about it, so many opportunities for little lessons and learning how to be a member of a community as well as learning how to learn.
Some tips while on your way home from school, hearing about or discovering the golden opportunities they experienced during the day.
Stay off YOUR phone.
This can be tough here in the Silicon Valley – many of our parents work tech jobs that seemingly never end. But try to avoid conference calls while riding in the car to and from school.
The car can be a great time to talk with your child – if you can eliminate the distractions. Having your attention in the car will be something you children will come to look forward to.
My boys are grown now. When they were in preschool and even elementary school, we had a 30 to 45-minute commute each way. We made up games that involved the radio, other cars on the road, road signs, etc.
Most importantly we laughed and spent the time interacting together.
Don’t be afraid to be silly!
This is a great time and place for it. It is just you and your children in the car. Nobody else is paying attention. Go for it!
If you have had a stressful day, this can be a very effective way for you to unwind from your day as well.
Most importantly, your kids will love it and will feel like they can relax with you- which in turn will help them be more open and honest when talking to you.
Enjoy this time – it does not last forever.
Ideas for games in the car:
Younger children 2-4
Older children 4 to 8
Today, my boys are very independent, and we do not spend as much time together as we used to.
When I really want to know how they are doing, I find a reason to ride in the car.
It takes time for them to start talking, so the trip needs to be longer than a drive to the grocery store. But by using questions like the ones listed here, they always begin to open up to me.
So, next time you are in the car, choose two or three of these questions and give it a try. It might take a few attempts but keep at it & I am confident that you will get your child to start talking to you – and probably asking you a few of these questions.
Below are a couple of links for some additional information on this topic.
Until next time…
“Children First, Always”