Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Have you talked to your child today?

As I was driving my son to school this morning, it was raining. Our drive is pretty short, but there was tons of traffic due to the elementary and middle school being on the same street. With my son being strapped into his car seat and the other two quietly enjoying the rain hitting the window, it gave us a chance to talk.

I treasure the moments when my son shares what is going on in school. It's the one part of his life that I can't fully be present in all the time. I usually have to drag information out of him to just get an idea of what he learned about and what he did with his classmates. And what I do get is usually about kickball, soccer or what he didn't like about his lunch.

I try really hard to use open-ended questions (those are the kind where the answer is more than yes or no). As a former preschool teacher, I know the importance of this kind of communication to foster curiosity, language skills and self-esteem among other things. And you know what? Most people, especially children, like to talk about themselves! A few times a week on the way home from school I might ask: Tell me three things that happened on the playground today, Who was at your lunch table? What centers were set up in the morning? Today my son had mentioned that the teacher planned on waiting to take attendance on rainy days because of the traffic, so this was our conversation:

Me: So what do you do while you are waiting?
J: Mrs. T plays music and I go to the clip chart and move every one's clips for the day.
Me: You move every one's clips? Why do you do that?
J: Because it's my job right now (this was news to me, BTW!)
Me: What are some of the other jobs in the class?
J: Desk checker and helper.
Me: What does the desk checker do?
J: Looks for messy desks and gives out stickers (he went on to explain the collection of stickers at his desk)
Me: What do you do after you finish your job?
J: When the music stops, we sit down and get ready to work
Me: Tell me more about the music she plays

Okay, you get the picture. I got more information from him this morning than on a typical day. I have also found turning off the radio or walking to/from school help with getting him to talk. I want to know more than "How was your day?" Don't you? What are some ways you get your child or children you love to talk?


Susan said...

Wow. Your blog is getting deep. lol. Keep up the good writing.

Laura Bray said...

I've found that my DD doesn't always respond the first time I initiate conversation, but later she suddenly comes to me with a big, long story. I think the fact that I asked stays with her and when she's ready to open up she does.