"How was school today?"
"Well, what did you do?"
We've all been there. Getting kids to talk about their day can be quite the challenge for parents as well as after-school nannies and babysitters. Add in the chaos of the back-to-school season, the repressed energy from being in a classroom all day long and the same mundane question over and over, and you've got the perfect recipe for one-word answers.
But you don't want one-word answers. You want engagement, excitement and conversation! The good news is that you and your after-school child care provider can achieve this improved communication by following Sittercity.com's five talking tactics to get real responses from your school-age child.
1. WAIT FOR THE CHILD TO WIND DOWN
As soon as kids walk through the door, your instinct might be to immediately ask the "dreaded" question. Don't. Kids, just like adults, often need time to unwind from the busy day and will be more likely to share stories with you after some time has passed between getting off the school bus and getting out of school mode.
2. BE SPECIFIC
Asking, "How was school today?" is too much of an open-ended question for kids to tackle, especially when they don't think anything noteworthy happened. To make it easier for children to respond, hone your question to something more specific. Try questions such as:
"What did they talk about in your assembly today?"
"Who did you play with at recess this afternoon?"
"Tell me two new things your teacher taught during your lessons."
"What was the best thing that happened to you today?"
3. TALK ABOUT YOUR OWN DAY
Talking about your own day will encourage conversation, and your child will feel less like he's on trial and more like he's sharing in a give-and-take grown-up situation. A great way to further encourage your child to share is to ask him if he had a similar experience as you did this afternoon. Example: "When I was in a big meeting this afternoon, I came up with a good idea that my boss loved. I was very proud of myself! What were you proud about today in school?"
4. BE GOOFY
With younger children, don't be afraid to be a little goofy. Tell them how you think their day went, and include out-of-place details and silly assumptions so that they correct you, giggling of course. "So, you got to school and told the class to be quiet and you read a book to them- Oh, you didn't read it, that's right! The teacher read a book to the class. Then you had recess, then lunch. No? Silly me, it was lunch then recess! What did you do at recess?"
5. BE PATIENT
Don't expect change to happen overnight, but if you and your after-school babysitter keep consistent with your talking tactics, your child will follow your cues and open up. In the meantime, remember that you're still bonding and building a foundation for open communication in the future!
Sittercity is offering TodaysMama readers, 10% off a Sittercity.com membership. Just use the coupon code "TODAYSMAMA09" when you sign up.