I now have three kids in elementary school (which seems insane to me!). I love that they love going to class, that they love their friends, and that their teachers really are great.
But I confess I miss them terribly when they are gone. I admit I am THAT mom that still gets a little bit choked up as I wave that very last wave and blow that very last kiss as they head off into class.
As the day goes on, I often will look at their schedules to see and imagine what they might be doing at certain times throughout the day. I wait anxiously for them to return and count down the hours until they are back with me at home.
My “pick up” alarm goes off on my phone and my hearts skips a beat. I walk, sometimes run, over to the school. I greet the crossing guard. I stand by the tree. I wait. I hear the bell ring. I start to get excited. I wait.
Is that my kid?
No. I wait longer.
I see them!
Here they come around the corner.
They run down the hill.
I run to meet them half way.
I pick them up, swing them around, hug and kiss them profusely.
As we walk home I excitedly ask the same question every day,
“How was your day today?”
Next question: “What did you do today?”
“I don’t know.”
Here’s the thing, I want to know about every single detail from beginning to end. I want to know what mood their teacher was in, if they liked their snack, what math lesson they began, and how reading group went. I want to know if they ate all of their lunch, and who they sat next to at lunch. I want to know if the kids were mean or nice to them on the playground and whether or not they got a turn on the swings. I want to know if they felt tired or lonely or scared. I want to know what made them happy and whether or not they filled their sticker chart yet.
Talking to kids about school can sometimes be a big challenge, yet I feel that making the effort to keep up with their days is important. Many hours are spent there and if I don’t ask and if they don’t share I feel I am missing out on a huge part of their lives.
So, here’s what I’ve learned about post school conversations…
Step 1: Mom, the conversation begins with you. It’s the kids’ job to respond, they choose the ending. Do you remember Mad Libs?! Ya, so imagine that style…only really, really encourage your kids to finish with TRUTHFUL endings, not silly pretend endings!
Step 2: Review their basic class schedule in your mind and begin asking questions based on order of events.
Step 3: Use “I” to help the child think through the story in first person.
Step 4: Begin the story.
Example: “When I got to school today the very first thing I did was put my backpack up, then I hugged my mom goodbye and I waited for the bell to ring. I went inside and the first thing (teacher) said was…”
Step 5: And then, mom, stop talking. You pause to let your child finish the sentence. If they keep going and going, let them. Sometimes that little primer is all they need. But if they stop, you pick up where he/she left off.
“I looked at her and I thought to myself…” (stop again)
“after the lesson (teacher) said…”
“and I thought…”
“I looked across the room and saw…”
“The person that sits next to me is…”
“And I think he/she is…”
“My favorite thing about the morning was…”
My least favorite thing about the morning was…”
“Then it was snack time and I was so…”
“I ate my…(all of it?)”
“…then I played with…and we played…”
“Then the bell rang, I ran back inside and (teacher) said…”
Sometimes, you can be silly and start to make up funny nonsense. Without fail, when I do this my kids will smile and laugh and say “NO MOOOOOM! It didn’t happen like that!” And then they will finish with what really happened.
I think you get the idea!!! Just keep going until you feel like you have a good grasp on the day! And then repeat again and again for each child! 🙂