A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post to let parents know that a full and active preschool day could not be measured by the amount of “stuff” in a school bag.
Sometimes our busiest days at LANK may not result in a take home project. So, how then can a parent start a conversation about what took place during the all-important school day? The art of conversation with our preschoolers involves more than asking questions; it also requires patience, and side by side activity.
Most of you have probably greeted your child with a hug, and then asked how was your day? It is instinctive to ask, and then that all too familiar answer comes… “I don’t know.” Or maybe your preschooler answers, “Good.” Both are true, but provide you with little insight into the full school day. Young children do not really focus on a series of events, but may only be able to keep in mind the last thing that happened during the day.
There are a few ways to encourage more meaningful communication, here are our 3 top tips;
1. Engage in a cooperative activity
First, engage in an activity with your preschooler. I am a big believer that good communication with children comes when we are relaxed and doing something together. Although it is very tempting, hold off on asking your preschooler about their day immediately after school. In that moment, it is wise to allow your child to relax and to just appreciate seeing you! It might be better to encourage chatter about the classroom later, when you are doing something together. I always had the best talks with my own children while throwing a ball, playing a game, or washing dishes together.
2. Make statements
Rather than asking a question, I often began our conversations with a statement. An example might be; “I know how much you like to sing. I wonder if your teacher likes songs too.” Now you have created a space for talk about song in the classroom. Another approach might be to offer, “Let’s sing a song from school together.” This will help turn your child’s memory in a particular direction, and open up dialogue.
3. Ask questions that require specificity
If questioning is more your style, ask with specificity. Some examples of good questions to open up conversation include: Who sat next to you in circle today? What story did your teacher read today? Tell me about your favorite part. I heard your class made applesauce, how did you make it? These are questions that require your child to reflect on a specific aspect of the school day and may spark some great conversation.
4. Listen and be patient
Lastly, good communication is also about listening, and providing patience. Sometimes conversation pops up randomly when a thought is triggered by an event, a sound, an aroma, or a photograph. When parents and teachers practice patience in waiting for communication, the end result is mutually rewarding.
LANK is a preschool and Kindergarten in Reston, VA where teachers are committed to providing parents with weekly updates and photos that chronicle classroom activities. We are cognizant that young children might have some difficulty conveying all of the wonderful parts to a day. It is our hope that you can use many of the great ideas presented here in conjunction with your class newsletter to connect more fully with your child’s world.