Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Ways to get kids talking about their day

One of the concerns from parents that I hear year after year is, "I never know what is going on in school!  My child never tells me about their day!" As a parent, I can understand their concern-why aren't they talking?  Do they hate school?  Are things too hard?  Are they not happy?

As a school psychologist, I've been there.  There is nothing like a "so how's your day going?" at the beginning of my session to elicit a "horrible" or "I don't know" response, that can affect the rest of our session.  So, I try to pass along this wisdom to those parents, and remind myself in these instances, that there are lots of ways to find out about your child and student's day, without really asking them.  What are your favorites?

Here are mine:

  1. What's the best thing that happened today?  The worst?
  2. What did you play at recess?
  3. Tell me about something funny that happened today.
  4. If you could design the perfect school day, what would I look like?
  5. If you got to be the teacher/principal tomorrow, what would you change in class/school?
  6. Tell me one book you read (or your teacher)
  7. How was lunch?
  8. Tell me one thing that made you feel happy/sad/mad today.
  9. Was anything at school really hard today?
  10. What do you hope to do in school tomorrow?
Other things I like to tell parents:
  • Model sharing about their day around the dinner table.  Take turns talking about the best part of their day, something silly that happened, etc.  Even if the child can' think of anything at first, hearing examples from others is a valuable tool.
  • The Rose and Thorn:  One of my coworkers told me this analogy and it stuck.  I always tell my kids we all have a million things that happen throughout the day, so we can always think of some small good and bad thing that happened.  Sharing these and modeling is also a great conversation starter...This morning, I spilled my coffee, but I got to leave work on time and play with the babe for a little longer!
  • Relate it to what they know.  Do I spend my free time playing Minecraft?  No, but I know what a creeper is.  Have I ever sat down to watch any of the Star Wars movies in full?  No, but I do "Yoda" meditation with one of my students every week.  Use what kids are passion about to get them talking, and let the conversation flow from there!  Anytime a kid is talking, you are doing good.
What are your favorite ways to get conversation flowing?

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