Tips for Talking to Your Child about their Day from our friends at Kiddie Academy
What did you do in school today? Nothing.
How many times have you asked your kids what they did at school and their response is lackluster? More specifically, they say “nothing.” Well, we know they did something. Perhaps “nothing” means your kids read a new book or made a new friend at lunchtime. It’s not necessarily anyone’s fault, but this moment can be pretty frustrating for parents. We’ve all been there. As parents, we want to know about our children’s daily schedule, who they interacted with, what they did and what they learned. Unfortunately, the answer becomes muddled in the cryptic and spotty description of a day when it comes from a 2- or 3-year old. Most times, you’ll be lucky if you get an accurate account of that day’s lunch menu.
Our friends from Kiddie Academy, a longtime sponsor of our PBS Kids series Dinosaur Train, suggest trying a little extra tenderness the next time you want the 411 on your kids’ day:
- Put some thought into the questions you ask. “The best way to get your kids to open up is to use open ended questions,” says Richard Peterson, vice president of education at Kiddie Academy. “Open-ended questions often begin with: why, what, who and how.” Since younger kids don’t really have a concept of time, you can ask specific details that will help narrow down the day. “Will you sing me a song that you learned at school today?” “Did you play any math games?” Don’t forget to add in a mix of fun questions, like who they sat with at lunch or what they liked most about playtime.
- Revisit later. Sure, wanting to ask your kids how their day went as soon as you pick them up seems like a natural reaction. But oftentimes your tykes just want to go home and relax first. And that’s okay! Try waiting it out until they’ve had an afternoon snack or when everyone is settled at the dinner table.
- Give your children some time to reflect. As with revisiting questions about their day, you might find that giving your kids time to reflect will often lead to insightful answers. Letting kids process their day before answering questions will make for a more relaxed atmosphere for everyone.
- Get help! Parents helping parents is a great way to build a picture of what your child may be up to when you are not around. Volunteers in the classroom and parents of your child’s closest pals may see and hear about activities you can discuss at home, so reach out and make some parent pals. You may have details they want to know about their kid! And of course, teachers and classroom aids are a great resource for hearing about what goes on at school. Many schools offer ways to stay in touch. At Kiddie Academy, parents receive individual electronic reports for each child maintained throughout the day and delivered to parents at pick-up. They include photos and videos of their children, each child’s portfolio of work, details about their lunch and snacks, and an account of all the lessons and activities from the day. Some schools even have online access to cameras allowing parents to check in on their children throughout the day.
As parents, it’s hard enough when we are away from our kids, but connecting with them about their experiences can help. So the next time your child replies with “nothing,” don’t give up just yet!
Kiddie Academy is a proud sponsor of Dinosaur Train on PBS KIDS. For more information, visit www.kiddieacademy.com.