With the start of a new school year, your child will soon be navigating new routines, new relationships with teachers and friends, and new learning challenges. Adjusting to the changes can take time. Talking about it helps, but it can be a little overwhelming for children to recall the events of their day while in transition. So, we have some tips to try that might help take the pressure off.
Try these simple suggestions to spark conversation and encourage positive communication:
- Share a story about yourself. Children love to hear what you were like at their age. Share a brief
story about something you enjoyed in school or your favorite lunchtime meal. Your child will draw a connection and share something in return. For example, you can say, “I loved playing kickball at recess. What do you and your friends like to do?”
- Be present. If you have trouble avoiding distractions, try setting an alarm on your phone for 5 to 10 minutes. During this time, focus on being present when asking about your child’s day. Make this a consistent effort and adjust your focus time accordingly.
- Create a routine. For parents with limited time, designate regular opportunities to connect. If evenings work best, this could be done at the dinner table, after homework is completed, during playtime, or even as part of bedtime. Your child will know this is their time to talk and check in.
- Draw visual flashcards. You may have a child who is too young or shy to respond. Work together to create simple flashcards to encourage them to share more easily. You can draw pictures of a happy face, sad face, swing, or favorite toy. Have them choose the feelings or objects that best describe their day.
- Avoid asking too many questions right after school. Children are tired after a long, intense day at school. Give them some downtime to allow for relaxation, creativity, and snacks. After a little rest, you can initiate a conversation with more success.
- Model healthy communication. It all starts with you! Demonstrating healthy conversations with other adults sets a great example of how conversations ebb and flow. Be sure to model good listening skills too—that’s just as important as saying thoughtful things to prompt a discussion.
Let us know how these tips work for you and what other ideas you might have for creating space to have open, honest conversations about your child’s learning and growth.