If you ask your preschooler or kindergartner what happened in school today, you’re often likely to get one of these popular non-answers: “Nothing” or “I don’t know."
But why is this such a common response? One answer is that the question is too broad, since so much can happen during the course of a day that the child does not know where to begin.
Here are some Do's and Don'ts for engaging your child in more substantive conversations about their day:
This is a two-way conversation, not an interrogation. Share something about your day. This will help them learn how to share things with you. After a while, trading stories will become a natural part of your relationship.
Your child needs to know that you are interested in all parts of their day. Even if you know that they are having a hard time in one part of the school day, don't focus on it. If they sense that you are only interested when something is wrong or when they are misbehaving, it may discourage them from sharing openly with you.
Teachers are increasingly sharing pictures from the school day on parent portals and private social media accounts. Show your child these photos and ask to hear about what was happening in them. You can also show excitement and ask questions about any school work they bring home, such as drawings, crafts or science projects.
Did you have fun at school today? Yes. Ask a yes or no question and you’ll get a yes or no answer. Try more open-ended questions such as "What did you think was fun at school today?"
On your way to school, set a goal with your child and make it playful! Give your child something to look for throughout the day. For example, tell them to find someone they caught smiling that day. This will allow your child to identify topics for discussion throughout the day and even help them notice things that they might have otherwise overlooked.