Kate’s Corner: What Did You Do In School Today?
Posted April 26, 2010on:
Here’s a typical conversation in the car at the end of a preschooler‘s day:
Parent: “What did you do in school today?”
Child: “Nothing.” (This is if there is a response at all.)
Parent: “Did you play games?”
Parent: “Did you sing songs? Read stories..?”
Parent: “What did you have for lunch?”
Child: “We didn’t have lunch.”
If you choose to continue this “conversation,” many times the questions will change, but the response doesn’t get much better.
Why is this typical?
Preschool children are very concrete thinkers. They are often “in the moment” and need time and prompts to help them recall and verbalize past events and activities. At times preschoolers won’t connect the language they are confident in with the spoken responses needed. If young children don’t think the question is important and they really don’t know why they are expected to answer it, they won’t. This isn’t because they are bold or defiant. This is because they are young.
Other times preschoolers are able to give detailed accounts of a movie or cartoon that they watched last week. They can tell you where the slide is in a neighborhood playground, the number of cheese slices you put on their sandwich or who sat next to them at snack time. Preschoolers can dig out a favorite truck from a toy box after you have looked for it all day and sing every verse to a favorite song. This isn’t because they are brilliant. This is because they are young.
As adults, we become used to questions being answered and we are used to answering question asked of us. Children need time and patience for this skill to develop. They are just figuring this entire system out and they are looking to important adults as role models.
What can you do about it?
Consider — Does your child have the language needed to answer questions confidently? When a question is asked, are they looking at you and paying attention? Does your voice tone and body gesture welcome all responses? Connecting a question to something meaningful to the child often gets attentive responses. Do you answer your child when she asks you a question?
Change it up — Ask open ended questions. These invite more than one word answers for more information. “Tell me about lunch today.” “I love it when we sing your school songs..tell me about singing with the kids today.” “I saw a green frog on the reading table when I picked you up! I wonder what he was doing in school.” “There are children on the playground now. What was your favorite part of being outside today?”
Collect information from the school. — Be sure you have on-going, positive connections to your child’s classroom (in all grades). How does your child’s teacher/program/school inform families of the child’s activities and skill development? Be aware of written notices on parent boards or internet access to school themes and lessons. Use this as a spring board for conversations between you and your child.
The way you communicate and connect with your child is such an important part of their social development. Actively listen to what they have to say, and respond to them when they ask you questions in return. Cherish the talks you have with your little ones and work hard to learn about their daily routines.
Make learning fun!
-Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director