A Conversation After School

imageIf you are a parent of a young child who attends school, you have probably been told not to ask your child about their day at pick up.  So many parents ask me, why is that?  It seems so natural to ask the ones you love about their day when you come back together.  It actually seems like it may be a part of helping a child adapt to his culture through grace and courtesy.  So why are we asked to refrain from the questions?

First, your child who is younger than five years old lives in the moment.  This means that when you come to pick him up from school, he is enjoying the moment of seeing you again and may be full of gratitude for that moment.  If in that moment, you ask, ” How was your day?” Or ” what did you do today?” he may be caught off guard and unable to answer your question. In his mind, he is enjoying the present and not recapping the day in his head.  The ability to recap the day is a function of the reasoning mind of an older child, not the absorbent mind of your young child.

Next, children who feel compelled to answer their parents when asked, “Did you do any work today?” May feel unneeded pressure to preform.  If he doesn’t have an answer at that very moment he may come up with an activity he remembers, a person he recalls, or a staple answer that has seemed to work in the past: “Snack.”

Also, because many children don’t imagine each moment of their time at school to be nearly as significant as their parents see it, they don’t always share the details.  As a parent, you may find it very interesting that they practiced sandpaper letters and learned four new sounds today.  However, your child may just see it as another good day of work.

So, as parents, how do we connect with our children at the end of the day? How do we learn about the details of the day without putting them on the spot or forcing them to come up with something? 

We model.  

We model conversation about our day.  This can be done with another adult or an older child, but this can also be done as an individual. Imagine you pick up your child from school.  You see his sweet face, you embrace and say, “Hello, it is so nice to see you.”  He may say something similar.  Without asking the teacher about the details of the day and without distractions of other parents or your phone, your focus is on your relationship with your child as the two of you walk together to the car or possibly walk all the way home.

On your way home, you wait patiently, offering your child time to open up if he chooses.  If he too remains silent, possibly contemplating the day, you can offer a description of your day. “I was working in my office today.  I organized some papers and called a client.”  Pause.  Your child may have a question for you.  Or, he may share something about his day.  Continue to refrain from questions.  You may want to offer another sentence like, “I enjoyed the salad I packed for my lunch.”  

Making statements such as this will help your child understand what might be notable from his day.  Over time with this modeling approach, your child will start to offer his own tidbits about his day and a pattern of exchange will emerge.  Letting him develop his own ideas in his own time will make the conversation that much more meaningful for both of you.

6 thoughts on “A Conversation After School

  1. SANDRA

    Gracias.
    Me he sentido identificada. A mí me pasa igual con la peque. Nunca me explica nada, le pregunto que como ha ido el día y me contesta que bien, le pregunto que ha hecho y me dice jugar…..
    Me siento fustrada, pero al leer este artículo veo que es normal.

    Gracias.

    SANDRA

    Reply
  2. Cristina

    This is really helpful, I’m always excited when I pick up my son and want to ask him about his day, but he usually answers “I didn’t do anything”. I will try these ideas, thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  3. Pingback: A Conversation After School – Sarah Moudry | Healthy Beginnings Montessori

  4. Vanessa

    Thank you for explaining this to me and helping me understand the ins and outs of the why we don’t ask a child how his day was right when we walk in the door. Thanks for the great tips for how to help our child open up and talk. :)

    Reply
  5. Carmen

    Love this! I just opened a Montessori School and would love to share this with my parents and assistant teachers. Is that ok of course I will let them m ow the source. This is just such a great way to explain it. Thank you for writing this!

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      That’s great! I’m so glad you find it helpful. Share as much as you like. All the best to your growing school!

      Reply

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