For many parents, this question is often greeted with… (cue crickets)… chirp …chirp… … no response.
So, how can you get your children to open up and talk about school? Speech-Language Pathologist Sherry Artemenko (who earlier shared a great article on using S’Match as a speech tool!) shares her thoughts in today’s chicago Tribune:
Experts reveal how to get kids of all ages to talk to you about their school day
Heidi Stevens, Tribune Newspapers May 6, 2010
If your child turns into a clam the moment you ask about school, you may need to alter your approach. We turned to the experts for tips on getting kids of all ages to offer up their pearls of wisdom.
Start a 30-minute rule: Make your first half-hour together a question-free period. Let your kid snack, flop on the couch or otherwise zone out. Jim Fay, co-founder of Colorado-based Love and Logic Institute (loveandlogic.com), established this rule for his family. “Kids often get the feeling when their parents are anxious to hear about their day that it’s not really a visit; it’s an interrogation,” he says. “That’s why you get ‘I don’t know,’ ‘nothing,’ — the one-word answers.” After a half-hour, initiate the dialogue.
Work on your opening: “Know the names of the kids in their class, read up on the class Web site to know what they are currently learning,” says Sherry Artemenko, founder of Play on Words, which offers speech pathology coaching to teachers and parents. “‘Let’s see, you had music today with Miss Diedre. I wonder if she brought the drums,'” Artemenko suggests. “Pausing and listening is so important in good conversations. ‘What instruments did you like today? That sounds like fun. I like the shakers too.’ For older kids, Fay suggests a wide berth. “I get a lot out of ‘I hope you got to see some of your friends today.'”
Speak their language: If your child wants to talk playground politics, listen intently, says Artemenko. “If we care about our kid, we care what he had for a snack, if that is important to him.
Be a model: “Just start talking about your day: ‘I hope you had a great day. Guess what I did today? I read this great article; I saw this thing on the Internet,'” says Fay. “Talk with a lot of enthusiasm about what you did. They’ll join in after a while. The things we learned the best and built into our subconscious aren’t what our parents told us; they’re what we saw our parents doing.”
Let them complain: If your child blurts out, “I hate school” or, “I’m terrible at math,” don’t shut him down with “Oh, you’re exaggerating.” This is a great time to teach kids how to express their emotions and attach words to what they’re feeling. “‘I’m sorry you feel that way. Tell me about it,'” suggests Artemenko. “Or, ‘Show me your math notebook, and let’s see what is hard.'” Help them turn “I hate math” into “I get so frustrated trying to do fractions.” And “I have no friends” can become “I was disappointed when no one picked me for their kickball team.” Remember, you’re not just talking about your child’s day, you’re arming him or her with communication tools for life.
What conversation starters or questions have you found helpful in getting your kids to open up about school? Please share!