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Let’s Talk, School Talk
With school being back in full swing, parents are often wondering how they can promote conversation regarding their child’s day at school. Common answers to the question, “what did you do at school today?” include “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember.” These responses often leave parents curious about the activities of the day, their child’s friends, the positives of the day, and the challenges of the day. Here are some tips and strategies that should help to bring about more conversation on this very important topic.
Draw a Picture
Encourage your child to draw a picture representation of their day. Having a visual can help your child to elaborate on their daily activities. The picture might highlight some of their favourite moments of the day or some of the friends with whom they spent time. The picture can be used as a way to encourage conversation by asking questions (e.g., “I see you drew a picture of a girl. What is her name?”), and by making comments (e.g., “That game of catch on the playground looks like so much fun!”). The picture acts as the foundation for the conversation and you, the parent, act as the facilitator guiding your child through the discussion.
Ask Specific Questions
Asking specific questions can be helpful in acquiring details about your child’s day. General questions such as, “how was your day?” might not yield as much information and they might be more difficult for your child to answer. Consider using WH-questions to ask for specific pieces of information. For example, “who did you play with at recess?”, “what was your favourite part of the day?”, “where did you have gym class?”, “when did you go to the library?”, “how did you like the lunch that I packed for you?” Once your child has answered some of these questions, you can encourage more details and help them to elaborate.
Acquire the Weekly Schedule
Asking your child’s teacher for a copy of the weekly schedule can be helpful in understanding the activities of each day and can provide you with a place to start in discussing the details with your child. Once you know the subjects of the day, specific questions can be used to ask about the various subject areas. As above, try to make your questions as specific as possible. For example, instead of “how was gym today?” which might yield a non-specific response such as “good,” try asking detailed questions such as “what sport did you learn in gym today?” and “who was on your team?”
Talk About Your Day
Talking about your day can be a great way to model the type of information that you would like your child to share with you. Details about your daily activities and the people with whom you spend time can provide insight into how your child can open up about their day. Once you’ve shared this information, your child might chime in and explain specific aspects of their day. Try to highlight daily activities to which your child can relate. This might include information about the friends you saw, what you ate for lunch, or your favourite parts of the day.
Prepare Your Child Ahead
In order to encourage memory of daily details, prepare your child at the beginning of the day. Before dropping your child off at school or sending them on the bus, try explaining, “I want you to tell me your favourite thing about your day when you come home from school,” or “I want you to tell me about something that was funny at school today.” This will hopefully carry with them throughout the day, such that they are ready to discuss it when the afternoon bell rings.
Chatting with your child about their day can be made fun and engaging for the whole family. Providing positive reinforcement is important to encourage more detailed discussions. Pick a time at night when your child has your undivided attention for these conversations – whether it is on the ride home or during dinner time. Enjoy!