We’ve all been there. You go to pick up your sweetie from preschool. You’re ecstatic to see your preschooler and they are over the moon to see you. You hug, you kiss, you gather up their belongings and you scoop them into your arms. Then, you ask the question that parents have been asking since, it seems, formal schooling began:
How was your day?
It’s a simple question. Only 4 words. You anticipate a long list of activities, lessons, learning experiences and social accomplishments! You want to hear everything. You are giddy. Did they paint? Did they color? What songs did they sing? Did they get to play outside or was the playground too wet?
If you’re lucky you get, “Good.” If you are not as lucky you may not even get that. It’s frustrating for parents because we are dying to know all about our little ones’ days. Sure, we can ask their preschool teachers… and we do. However, preschool communication via the teachers just isn’t the same. You want to share the conversation with your child.
You may find yourself wondering if they are not having fun at their child care center, or worse, if they’re mad at you for leaving them. The reality is that it’s much more likely that none of that is the case. Unless they are having problems at preschool or at home, or are showing signs of delays or emotional issues, then there is no reason to read too much into it. Their clamming up may be deflating or even annoying but it shouldn’t be of concern to parents.
The question, however, remains, “Why don’t they tell me about their day?” This is a parenting conundrum that baffles many. You are certainly not alone. There are a few possible reasons why your kids may get quiet when asked about their day:
They may not remember some of it. They are, after all, still quite young. If their teacher read a book before nap, they might as well have read it last month. It’s like someone asking you to recall what happened on your favorite TV show 6 weeks ago. You might be a bit hazy on the details.
They are excited to see you and don’t want to talk about daycare and preschool. YOU are here now. Forget preschool! Let’s go to the park!
They don’t associate you with preschool or preschool with you. Some children simply think that home and daycare or preschool are two separate spheres and that the people and activities in each place rarely mix.
The answer may also be “none of the above.” Toddler and preschooler psychology can be complex and kids’ minds can work in very mysterious ways. The truth is, they may have their own set of reasons for keeping quiet about their day.
However, whatever the reason, there are some simple things that you can try to get them engaged in talking with you. Here are tips to help improve daycare and preschool communication to get your child to share their day at preschool:
Ask specific questions. “How was your day?” is just too general. It doesn’t really hold a lot of meaning to a young child. It also leaves the conversation open for a very vague answer. The best way to get a lot of great information is to ask a lot of really good questions. Ask them things like, “What did you have for lunch?” or “Did you enjoy art today? Did you paint or draw?”
Wait until they have had a moment to decompress. Think about it from your perspective. If you got picked up each day from work and were immediately drilled about your day, how receptive would you be? Would you want to immediately start chatting about everything that you had done that day? Probably not. So, let them ride in the car for a bit, have a snack or even (gasp!) watch 10 minutes of TV before questioning them about their day.
Find ways to engage them in preschool activities at home. This will help them to make the home-school connection which is so key to early childhood education. It is a lot of fun for parents too! Try buying books that you know that they are reading at school. OR, if you know that they are learning about a specific topic then plan a “field trip” to learn more about the unit.
Modeling behaviors, language and pretty much everything for your kids is the best way to get them to do what you want. It’s a huge part of parenting. Therefore, if you want them to talk to you about their day then tell them about yours. Tell them what you ate for lunch or that you went to a meeting and met new people. If you learned something new, then tell them. For example, “Today at work, I learned all about my new computer and how it works. I still need to practice but I am getting better.” This type of modeling will encourage them to share with you.
If you try these tactics, you will likely have some success in getting that little mouth moving to improve preschool communication. However, sometimes kids just don’t want to share. You should be respectful of their privacy, as well. If they feel that they would rather not talk then don’t force them. Kids don’t have to tell their parents everything and sometimes children enjoy having their own space outside of their home that they don’t have to share with siblings, parents or other family members.
You can (and should!) continue to ask questions, model for them and engage them in daycare and preschool-related topics. Hopefully, they will open up. Preschoolers can be as quirky as adults and may not always behave in ways that make sense to us. However, if you are getting good reports from preschool and your child seems happy and well-adjusted then there is no need to worry.