In preparing a kid post today I realized I had an appropriate list from last year that was worth sharing. Each year is different as the kids get older and wiser, but these universal truths still hold. Here are some tips for getting the goods on your school kids.
The first full day of school proved full of mystery. I was reminded that my least favorite part of sending my kids off to school is that for eight hours a day I have no idea what’s happening in their lives. I liked preschool where I dropped them at the door and even if I didn’t talk to the teacher every time, I could gauge her mood and if something was amiss she’d be sure to tell me right away. It was bad when I first sent The Girl and it remains a struggle for me even though she’s on year number three of Big Kid school and has never had any trouble as she’s had great teachers and schools. I have learned a few tricks over the years and I have had to tweak them even more now that The Middle One (a boy) has entered the ranks. Here are my three Mama PI tips for getting school information out of your kids:
- 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 at 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 does bedtime as often as he can because he’s not around for dinner most nights. 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. It’s weird how much more I get at dinner than I do right after school. They need some time to percolate, so you can guess bedtime is often even more full of good stuff. We have learned about conflicts with teachers, other kids and themselves with these worst moments. There are often so many bests that we never get 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.
Good luck and let me know what works for you. I can always use some new tricks!
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.