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Keep the Conversation Going: Talking With Kids

As parents, we invest a lot of time and attention in our baby’s language development. We sing songs, read board books, make extra effort to point out what things are called and to describe what we are doing throughout our day—even if it’s only folding laundry.

And we delight in their accomplishments: first word, first sentence, first time they say “I love you!”

But as our children get to school age and enter kindergarten, we sometimes focus less on how their language skills are developing—and we may even find ourselves communicating less than we used to.

Big kids, long days

You might be bursting at the seams to find out what your child learned about at school, what they played at recess, or whom they ate lunch with, and some kids will chatter on about every second spent away from you. Other kids might do the opposite and clam up like Fort Knox. How can you break the silence and connect with your child if they won’t talk?

It isn’t uncommon for school-aged children to feel “burnt out” after school and needing to give their brain a break. It is important to get some fresh air and get those muscles working again before you try to have a deep conversation. Do something active together to give both of you a chance to discharge the accumulated stress of the day.

When your child is ready, the trick lies in asking the right questions:

  • Get specific: Instead of asking “What did you do at school today?,” ask “Who did you play with at recess? What games did you play?”
  • Ask follow-up questions to expand their story-telling skills: “Then what happened?” “What did you say then?”
  • Avoid questions that have a one-word response, such as “Did you have fun at school today?” Ask instead, “What was something fun you did at recess?”
  • Use their take-home materials as prompts for questions: Ask them about their artwork or science project. Describe what you see and wait for them to explain it. Point out improvements or skills they have learned.
  • Know the weekly routine: Do they do journaling on Mondays or take nature walks on Thursdays? Out-of-the-ordinary events like these are great conversation starters and are likely to stick out in your child’s mind.

For more tips and to read the full article, visit lanekids.org.

This article is brought to you by Parenting Now Parenting Educators and authors Amanda Bedortha, Claire Davis and Lynne Swartz and consultant Jay Thompson (andupdatemywebsite.com).  Parenting Now is passionate about happy, healthy families. For more information about Parenting Now please visit their website (https://parentingnow.org/) or contact us at info@parentingnow.org

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