Establishing a relationship of communication with your child allows you to check in on their daily experiences and feelings, encourage and support them as they learn to interact with the world, demonstrate healthy communication techniques and form an openness with your child that you’ll both be thankful for as you get older.
Throughout my 30 years of teaching primary school and raising 3 boys, I developed some tips that really worked to get your preschool and early primary age kids talking about their day at school. Here are 3 for you to try with your child.
1.) Make a list
Start making a list of the kids in their class and post it on the fridge. They may only remember a few names the first few days, but can add to it in the first month. This list is a conversation starter for you as you can always say, “Hey, what was Sam up to today?” which will usually lead into more conversation. The fridge is a good place for this as the kitchen is frequented by all of the family. It is easy to walk by and make a comment about school as you are getting ready in the morning, or preparing meals at night. It is a reminder to you to keep the conversation going.
This list will help you find out all kinds of things:
- Who your child likes and may want to be friends with.
- Who causes the most trouble.
- Which children your son/daughter doesn’t want to be friends with.
- How the teacher handles problems.
- Activities that your child is excited about.
- Activities that your child is a bit unsure or afraid of.
2.) Use follow-up questions to learn more
- What did Kati do that made you laugh?
- Did Jon ask you to play ball with him again today?
- What kind of rules did the teacher talk about?
- Do you think those are good rules?
- Which rule do you think is best?
- Did the teacher say nice things to someone today?
- Did you get to paint today?
- Did you sing that song you liked again?
- Did the people in the cafeteria act friendly?
- Who helped you get in the right line after recess?
- Who helped you find your bus?
The list of what you can ask and how you follow up can go on and on. Don’t make it cumbersome, or too long. Keep it light, keep it fun, keep it short. Make a note in your own head of what you want to ask about later, in a day or two. Don’t assume everything is going to be a huge problem. Complement your child when he or she handled something well. Approach from the mindset that this is going to be an exciting, fun, growth-producing experience. Kids pick up on our feelings. If you think school is boring, or scary, or bad, they will pick up on that.
3.) Look at your child when he/she starts to talk about their day. Put down the phone/ tablet and focus on your child.
(This works for spouses, too)
This seems obvious but I know from my own experience that we have to remind ourselves that if we want real conversation we have to be attentive. If we establish this real conversation from an early age, and nurture it, it will continue.
The real point of this post is to find ways to communicate with your child and help your child learn to communicate from a very young age. It will serve you both well for a lifetime.
Have you used the class list as a communication tool before? What results did you have?