When picking their child up from school or child care, parents often ask '??What did you do in school today?'? only to be met with a monotone, '??Nothing.'? Frustrating. Especially if you've got little ones just beginning the school adventure. We've got tips to get the lines of communication flowing with you and the kids.
Knowing what to do and expect from your child during these times can help increase their engagement, create opportunities for learning and ease the transition from school to home. '??The most important thing is to know your child'??s personality.'? said Laura Olson, vice president of education for Kiddie Academy, a national child care and education franchisor. '??Are your kids more energetic and talkative in the morning, or do they hit their stride later in the day? Knowing this will allow you do determine how and when to engage them or when they might benefit more from soft music or silence.'?
Since we're all busy, multi-tasking moms. The trip to school and back is an ideal time to connect. First, turn off that Blackberry or iPod and focus on the family. Second take a deep breath and start slow. No one likes to be peppered with questions right away.
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Here are some additional tips from Olson:
* Take advantage of learning opportunities. When you are stopped at a red light, count the number of cars that pass by or search for a certain color car. You can also engage your children by having them guess where people in their cars are going, and make up stories based on what they see happening around them. If you are walking home (and we REALLY hope you are), look at the nature around you. Talk about the changing seasons or birds you may spot.
* Pack a snack. If your child has been at school all day, it might be a good idea to bring another snack if you have a longer commute (more than 15 minutes). Something as simple as apple slices and water will help stave off hunger and buy you some time to make dinner once you arrive home.
* Make them comfortable. For younger children having something they can snuggle with, such as a favorite blanket or stuffed animal, can help them get comfortable and unwind during the ride.
* Have structure. Kids love to know what is coming up next. Stick to a routine whenever possible, and if you do stray from it let them know where you are going and why. This way they will know what to expect.
* Force the issue if your child isn'??t being talkative. Sometimes children need time to decompress after being around other kids and teachers all day, or like to relax in a calm environment before school.
* Just ask, '??What did you do today?'? Find out from your child'??s teachers what they did so you can ask specific questions.
* Forget to tell them about your day, too. Kids love to know what is going on in your life too: what people you work with, what types of activities are part of your day. This also shows them how to tell stories and helps develop their oral language skills.
For more education and parenting tips, sign up for the Parenting Essentials newsletter at www.kiddieacademy.com/newsletter.