What Does Your Child Do All Day In School?
As a new school year begins, one question I am often asked by parents in my kindergarten class is, “how do I get her to tell me more about her day?” Whether your child is entering kindergarten or the sixth grade, it’s likely you’ve faced the same challenge. While “how was your day?” is a tempting and natural question to ask, responses like “good” or “fine” are common, and don’t allow you much insight. When you ask your child what they did they might say “nothing” or “played.” Although this can be frustrating, there are some things you can do to help your child open up more about school. Here are some ideas:
Allow your child some down time! Let your child rest and relax before asking them about their day. The school day is tiring for children, as they are working hard socially and academically. Allowing some rest time will allow for kids to regroup before sharing about their day.
Ask your child for one high and one low moment of the day. How you phrase this is up to you! Some families ask their child to share something that went well, and something that could have gone better. Some ask for a highlight and a lowlight. Younger children may want some support in resolving issues related to the low moment of their day. Older kids will often want to resolve issues on their own, and just appreciate a chance to be heard. Once you have some more information, you can follow up with more questions the next day, “did you learn more about rainforests today?”
Know your child’s schedule! Knowing what special classes your child attends each week will allow you to ask specific questions with limited information, “how was music class today?” “what project have you been working on in art class?”
Focus on kindness. Ask your child to share one kind thing someone did for them or they did for someone. This lets your child know that kindness is important to you and your family, and reassures them that school is not only about homework and grades.
Keep up with your e-mail! Often teachers, especially in younger grades, will send home a weekly update to families. These updates often include highlights from the week, and sometimes include photos. Make time each week to read the update with your child, asking questions as you read. If your child’s teacher is open to suggestions, asking them to include a list of questions for parents to ask their children is helpful! If your child’s school does not send home a weekly update, looking around your child’s classroom can often give you clues as to what the class has been up to.
Listen when your child speaks! If you are often watching TV, using your phone, or working when your child shares with you, they will feel unimportant and begin to shut down. Set aside special time in the evening to talk to your child. You might want to spend time working on a low-stakes project together, such as a drawing or working on a puzzle. When children feel that what they have to say is important, they are more likely to open up.
Model sharing about your own day! Take some time to share about your own day each day. Keep it brief and relatable, “I made a new friend at work today,” or “I was really worried about a big project I had due in work today, but it went okay.”
While it might be difficult to get your child to open up at first, don’t be discouraged! Once sharing about their day becomes more comfortable for your child, it will become an easy and fun part of your daily routine.