How many times has this happened to you. You pick your child up from preschool, excited to hear about their day and what they learned, knowing they are in our learning based environment. You get them strapped into their car seat and start to pull out of the parking lot, when you ask “So how was school today?” More often than not, the response is either something like “Fine”, “I don’t know” or bursting into tears. So why does this happen, and how can you prepare for and avoid it? The following tips will help you learn how to get your child to talk about school, without crying.
As for the why, often times, children are so taxed and overloaded from the day, that they just need some mental quiet time. When they get with Mom or Dad and are in their comfort zone, they can relax and let go of the need to be “performing”. This comfort zone is one reason why the response to the question can often be a bucket full of tears. The kiddo is just overwhelmed with exhaustion and emotion, and needs to settle into their security space. If this is the reaction that you often get from your child, the best thing to do is to wait before talking to them about their day. Let them have some quiet space in the car on the way home. When you get home, have some snuggle time so that they are reassured that there is nothing else they need to do but just be safe with you. After a bit (and maybe a snack,) you will be able to notice a shift in them and see that they may be ready to talk about their day.
If the response you get when you pick them up and ask the question is “nothing” or “I don’t know” that often is a sign that they may have been overwhelmed by all that they learned during the day and are still processing things. It can be frustrating as parents to get this response as you know they have been learning a lot, but they key here is to be patient and try to help them verbalize what they learned that day. Help them break the information down into bite size morsels that they can talk about. Here are a list of questions that can provide you with another approach in talking with your kids (preschoolers and older,) about how their day at school was.
Use These Questions to Get Your Child to Talk About School
- What was the funnest thing you did today?
- What was your favorite part of the day?
- Did you have any sad parts of your day?
- Who did you play with?
- How did you help someone today?
- How did someone help you today?
- What is the coolest thing you learned today?
- What do you like doing most/least at school?
- Who did you sit next to for lunch?
- Did you make anything today?
Don’t throw all these questions at your child at once. Pick one or two that you’re going to use that day to get your child started talking. Often, once they’ve had a chance to relax, establish their security and regroup, they will start talking on their own about their day. Often this will be later (or the next morning,) in the car, or at the dinner table. Use these questions as conversation starters, and then let your child roam wherever they want in talking about school. You’ll be amazed at all they learn and how they talk about it.