As parents we are excited to hear about our children’s school day, but what if they don’t want to share or aren’t quite sure how to express what went on while they were away from home? Below are some tips to get the conversation going. Discussing daily events is a key developmental skill in order to foster narrative (story telling) development, which is a foundation skill for reading and writing. Children who have language delays or language impairments are at risk for difficulties with narrative development, making this a great learning opportunity throughout the day!
For younger children first entering school, start by narrating their day, beginning with the part of the day you participated in – “You woke up this morning and got dressed for school. Next we went into the kitchen and you had waffles for breakfast. After breakfast we brushed teeth, put our shoes on and then we got your backpack and left the house…” As you narrate the day you are helping your child sequence events and pick out key moments. You can then encourage your child to talk about the things he or she did at school by asking specific questions: Who did you sit next to at lunch? What did you play at recess? Avoid yes/no questions and encourage longer responses by using requests such as “Tell me about lunch time”. Then, provide follow-up questions as needed (e.g., “Was there dessert at lunch?”). Encourage your child to picture and visualize these events to support their recall. For example, “Close your eyes and picture it. You were sitting at the table, you were eating off your favorite Dora plate, what were you eating?”
For all children, don’t pressure your child to share if they seem uninterested or unwilling to talk about school right when you pick them up. Allow them time to decompress after school and perhaps wait until later in the afternoon or evening to ask about the school day. And don’t be afraid to get creative. Highly emotive situations are easier to recall, so try some of these alternative questions to “How Was Your Day”:
· What made you laugh?
· What made you really sad?
· Did anything make you angry today?
· Did anything silly happen today?
· What was your favorite part of recess?
Dinner time and right before bed can be really great times to discuss events throughout the day. For younger children, or when language is a challenge, visual supports can be extremely helpful. On the weekends or days off of school, take pictures of your child throughout the day. In our Preschool Enrichment Program and therapy sessions at Children’s Therapy Services, we use the app Brightwheel to share photos and videos with families. Scroll through the photos as a support for sequencing and event recall. Fade this support over time until your child can recall their day independently.
Lastly, allow the conversation to emerge naturally, whether it’s while playing a game, eating dinner, or talking about your own day.