- Ask specific questions: I learned a long time ago that “how was school?” usually garners a “good”. Now I ask about who they played with at recess and what special they had. When they tell me they switched for reading class (what?!?) I ask what they did first and second after they changed classrooms. I get to the nitty gritty. It helps that I know what should happen in a classroom, but anyone can quickly figure out a general schedule and ask about each class and each kid you care to know about.
- Eat dinner together or put them to bed every single night: It is well documented here how important I think dinner together is. Also, at bedtime their defenses are low and they’re often ready to share or unload with whomever has the joy of that snuggle time. Around here, dad often does bedtime as he’s not around for dinner and he and I are both desperate for him to have face time with the kids ever day. He gets great stuff from them at bedtime. At dinner, I listen as each kid tells their best and worst moment of the day. This helps with not only more of what they did, but any problem that may have come up that they might not share without specific prompting. I have learned about some conflicts with teachers, other kids and themselves with these worst moments. Yesterday, there were so many bests, like art class and switching for reading, (huh?) that we never got to any worsts but isn’t that what we want anyway?
- Finally, be a fly on the wall. Much of the information I get is caught off hand when they’re not sure I’m listening. As a parent you have to be a very strategic listener. My kids are pretty good friends with each other these days so I try to pay attention when they’re talking together. I give them chores to help clean the kitchen after dinner now ( a genius move!) and when they’re cleaning I catch some great stuff, like this gem:
“F, today in school we were talking about our five senses and how we use them. My teacher asked what are some things you don’t like to smell with that one sense and you know what one kid said? Are you ready? He said, BUTTS. Isn’t that hilarious?” (Yes, he said hilarious. Guilty as charged for my overuse of the word.)
Tomorrow’s post will be how not to laugh when your kid uses impeccable comic timing with a butt joke. Oh, wait, I can’t actually write that post because I don’t know the answer. I laughed out loud. I’m sorry. It was hilarious!
Maybe I actually shouldn’t listen so hard next time.
Happy School Year!
P.S. Looking for more parenting guidance and tips for self-care? Check out From Chaos to Calm a guided training to help you feel better in this tough season.