Talking with Your Kids
About Their Day
Picture this scene:
You pick up your child from school and ask him how his day went.
He tells you, "OK."
You ask if he did anything interesting or fun during school and the most likely response will be
Try as you will, you frequently get little more out of him than one word responses and you
find yourself wondering just what exactly was your little one doing during all those hours
at school? As a parent I've been through this with each of my own children. I gleaned ideas and
developed some strategies of my own so that I could stay on top of what was going on in my
children's classrooms. I trust that these ideas will be useful to you.
Give Your Child an Opportunity to Unwind and Regroup
When I get home after a long day at school, my family knows I need a little time, to read, to
sit at the computer, to take the dogs for a walk, before I am ready to interact with them. School
is your child's "work" and, like adults, they might need some time to regroup before they are ready
to share their day with you. Give your child that time... to unwind, to have a snack, maybe even
to play for a while. The amount of time needed will vary from child to child and even from day to
day.In our family, dinner often becomes the time when we can relax a bit and share about what
happened during our day.
Ask Open-ended Questions
A yes/no question will most likely generate a yes/no answer. Get into the habit of wording
your questions in such a way that your child will need to respond with a phrase or a sentence.
Some examples might include:
"Tell me three things that happened while you were at school today."
"Tell me what games you played during recess today? Who did you play with?"
"What was the best part of the story that the teacher read to you today?"
"Who was in the story?"
"Tell me about the picture you liked the best."
Play a Guessing Game
Small Children love to play games where they are "teaching" adults. We can tap into that by
playing a fun "guessing game" with them. It could go something like this:
"Let's see now. You got to school and then you went to lunch...."
"You didn't go to lunch first?..."
"Oh, so you had reading first! What did you do in reading then?"
"That's really great...oh, and THEN you had lunch!....not yet?"
"Ah, Oral Language! And tell me what you did in oral language?"
"The teacher wrote WHAT on the board?"
".... It sounds like you had a fun and interesting day...."
"Oh, you forgot to tell me what you had for lunch!"
Talk About the Children he knows
One way to get a child to open up is to talk about the children he works, plays and interacts
with. Ask specific questions about the different children he knows:
"Who was your reading buddy today? What story did you read together?"
"How does Jesse feel about being a big brother?"
"Who was in your math small-group today? What activity did you do today during math?"
"Did you play with _________ during recess today? What games did you play?"
A wonderful extension to this activity could be to practice spelling the names of your child's
friends and classmates.(we already do this in class) At first this might simply be the beginning
sound of a name (Teresa's name has a "t" at the beginning). Eventually your child should be able
to identify all the sounds of a name: beginning, middle and ending. Another thing you can do to
encourage literacy is to use magnetic alphabet letters to have your child spell out the names (or
other words) he knows.
Work to Develop Your Child's Conversation Skills
In our roles as parents as well as in that of teachers the rule of thumb is "Model! Model!
Model!" Children learn how to do things far more easily if they are shown. One way this can be
done effectively is through role-play. You can take on the role of the child while your child plays
the part of the teacher. As you role play through the activities of a day, you can model good
conversation skills for them. Children need to learn that eye contact, body language and warmth
in their voices are all important when carrying on a conversation, and that the development of this
skill will serve them well in the months and years to come as they meet new people and make new
Share About Your Own Experiences During the Day
As was mentioned above, modeling is an integral part of training a child. when you share your
daily experiences with your child, you are actively modeling to him the types of things you want him
to relate to you. For example:
"This morning I went to _______ and did _________. It was hard work but I had fun doing it."
"I had to _________and I finished it! That makes me feel really good.
These statements can naturally lead to questions that you can ask your child, and they might be a little
more open to responding when they "don't have to be first."
Don't Always take Everything at Face Value
As was already mentioned, children have vivid imaginations and occasionally have been known
to spin some rather incredible yarns. I have to confess to being taken in once or twice myself. On
other occasions your child might have misunderstood something that was said in class (this happen
frequently in our class of Second Language Learners). When you hear something that alarms or
concerns you in any way,CHECK WITH THE TEACHER. It could simply be a situation where
the teacher used terms that confused your child.
On the other hand, if your child is telling you repeatedly that he is being teased or being picked
on by a classmate or playmate, if he is making frequent visits to the school nurse, or if he refuses
to go to school on a consistant basis, there might be a real problem which needs to be addressed.
Calling the teacher or school counselor is the best way to determine what is going on, so that together
you can confront the problem and get your child the support he needs.
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