At least once a week a parent would say ‘he never tells me anything about school’ or ‘she won’t tell me anything about her day.’ Working in schools prior to children meant I had a little peek into the life of parenthood before diving in.
At the time I always thought, ‘leave the kids to it, they’ll tell you when they’re ready’ I’d seen what a busy day they had and understood they share their stories when they are good and ready. So assumed a parent would just know this too!
How wrong I was as my 1st daughter began school I found myself asking the exact questions I’d heard and shook my head at so many times before, “So what did you do today Ellyna??’. I couldn’t understand, after 6 years of believing I was enlightened here I was starting the cycle again! So I took it upon myself to research ways in which we could find out about our children’s days without actually having to ask them!
- On our way home we always give each other thumbs up or down depending on how we are feeling. We established this early on in our school years. We don’t ask for explanations or reasons just a simple gesture to let everyone know how we feel. It really helps to know each other’s mood and opens up the conversation later in the afternoon.
- Get to know their friends names, drop them into the conversation. Children are social beings and they love to talk about the people they love, even the shyest of children have their favourite people. They love it even more when you remember special things, like who they sit next to in class, who they enjoy playing with, or who they’ve had a tiff with that week.
- Don’t just straight up ask ‘What did you have for lunch today?’ The inevitable answer is ‘I can’t remember…I don’t know…nothing!” I like to share what I had for lunch and if I enjoyed it, this then easily flows into your children describing theirs, as well as what they loved or disliked. What I usually find out is they’ve eaten another food they flat out refuse to eat at home!
- If your children have packed lunches here’s a good one question to ask…’who had the best-packed lunch today, who had something you really wanted?’ This makes it easier for them to share their day, children have a thing about food, especially food someone else has that they really want!
- ‘If you went to school and had to be the teacher for the day what would you really like to do?’ My daughter loves this one, she really thinks she could be a better teacher as she would let everyone eat pizza all day and go the toilet when they want! This I learnt after asking the above question just last week on the way home.
- Make sure you know the behaviour procedure of the class, ours is very simple with a red, amber and green face. I like to ask who found it hard to follow the rules today, did anyone have to take a break after reaching the red face. If there is one thing a child remembers, it’s who has been naughtier than them!
- My Tips – always keep your questions open-ended, remember the little things, talk about your day and how you felt, it make sit easier for them to open up and share when you model this behaviour to them. Lastly don’t add pressure, if they don’t want to open up, leave them be because they may just decide to share every little second of their day just as you put them to bed!