What’s the first thing you want to know when your child gets in the car after school? How was their day? What did they learn? Did anything exciting happen today?
What is the most common response? Fine…Nothing…Nope…
Let me just suggest that maybe we, as parents, aren’t asking the right questions.
Maybe they are distracted …or feel like you are… that you don’t have time to spend waiting on them to collect their thoughts and organize them in a way that you will understand.
Maybe they need a little help remembering something specific about their day. There is a lot that goes on in a child’s day from new students, substitute teachers, special events and assemblies, going different places in the school, etc. I would like to share with you today a few questions that are hopefully enough to spark a memory and help your child recall something to talk to you about.
First things first, put away distractions, especially technology. Turn off the radio. Put the phone on silent and out of view. Turn off the TV or tablet. Only then can you guarantee a ripe situation for a fruitful conversation to occur.
If you feel like it has been a good day, ask your child some of the following:
- Who made you smile today?
- What was the funniest thing that happened today?
- What is one thing you did today that was helpful?
If you feel like it may have been a rough day, start by sharing something about your day. Model good conversation by telling the funniest thing that happened to you that day or something unusual that happened to you followed by a few questions. Quickly get to the point. Don’t intimidate them by your long, drawn out story. Follow your example with a question more in line with their mood:
- What was the hardest rule to follow today?
- If you could teach the class tomorrow, what would you teach them?
- When were you bored today?
- Which friend made you smile today?
If you ask a question that gets an immediate reply of “I don’t know”, encourage them to think about it for a minute. Ask them again after a minute or so.
Another thing to remember is to ask open ended questions, not yes/no questions. For example: Not ok…Did you play outside? Ok…Who did you play with today? Oh! What did you do together?
It is important not to interrupt your child but to encourage continuing the conversation by using some motivational cues like, “Wow! Really? That’s interesting…No kidding!”
Asking questions about your child’s day demonstrates to them that you are interested in what they do when you are not together. It gives them a chance to speak and be heard in a comfortable environment. This time together will also help develop their language and conversational skills as they speak, listen and learn from your example.
I have a free download I would like to share with you that you can use with your child to work on language skills while making muffins or just cooking in general in the kitchen!
Visit this blog post to read about how we worked on functional vocabulary skills at our school and helped parents learn ways to specifically target language during an everyday routine:
Darla Gardner, MS, CCC-SLP is an ASHA certified Speech-Language Pathologist who works primarily with 3-6 year olds with communication impairments in the public school setting. She is a blogger, author and online publisher of speech therapy materials at Ms. Gardenia’s Speech Room. Feel free to contact and follow Darla at Darla@MsGardenia.com, on Instagram @msgardeniasspeechroom, Facebook Ms. Gardenia’s Speech Room for more therapy activities and ideas. Speech and Language materials can be purchased at ShopMsGardenia.com.