As a former parent of a young Montessori student, I was always curious about what my child did in school for so many hours. When I asked my child, “What did you do in school today?” Often, I got these not-so-helpful responses:
“I don’t know.”
“A lot of work.”
I learned later that there are many reasons why children may be answering the question in this manner:
- They may not remember what they did.
- They do not have the language to describe that they did the “knobless cylinders”.
- They did so many things that they cannot seem to pick one to describe.
- They may not want to talk about it at the moment.
To have a more meaningful conversation about your child’s day, first be sure to tell your child how much they were missed. Then, try sharing what happened in your day while they were at school. Do not ask immediately when you pick them up.
Later, when your child is more relaxed (often this is at dinner time or bedtime), you might try to ask them:
- if he/she worked by his or herself or if he/she worked with someone
- to tell you about something that was good and something he/she did not like about his or her day
- what was served at snack and if she/he ate with anyone
Another effective way to receive answers to these questions is to observe your child at home. Ask yourself simple questions while you observe your child at play. “What songs are they singing?”, “Are they counting?”, “What does their pretend play look like?” and “How do they interact with other children?” Questions like these and many more will begin to unlock the “secret” to your child’s time at school. With one of my daughters, she would, out of the blue, share things like a continent fact. One day, she looked at the microwave and said 5:24. I had no idea she knew her numbers past 20. If we keep observing, they will amaze us.
When your child does start talking and opening up more, I encourage you to listen attentively and refrain from further questions and interruptions. Young children take time to formulate their experiences into words and giving them the time and space to do so shows respect to them.