Reviewing your child’s schoolwork is a great way to stay close to your child. It will allow you to know: 1) what subjects your child is working on at school 2) give you an idea of what his day was like and 3) give you assets for starting a conversation.
It’s difficult to start a conversation with my four year old some times. I might ask “how was your day?” and get no response, or “poo poo” for a response, or a giggle, or some other nonsensical response. Four year olds have only started developing their vocabulary so it’s tough for them to converse on abstract topics. Therefore, you get responses that lead to no conversation when you don’t ask the right question.
A more productive way to talk to a young child is by using a quid pro quo technique. If you tell him about your day and the people you interacted with, I think you’ll find that he’s very interested in what you have to say. It’s also neat as an adult to translate your day into four year old speak just to hear how it sounds different than if you were explaining your day to your wife. It’s very easy for a four year old to listen and understand as compared to leading the conversation. I find that my boy is somehow disarmed about talking about his day after I have talked about mine whereas before he wasn’t going to say anything. I can actually see him starting to build up the need to say something because he can relate to these common interactions he’s had at preschool. Now instead of asking him an abstract question which used to get me nowhere, I will ask a more specific question and I will actually get a better response.
So what topics do you have to choose from when asking your child questions that are actually going to elicit meaningful responses? This is where the schoolwork can provide you some extra assets. Reviewing your child’s schoolwork allows you to know exactly where he is in his curriculum. This will give you fresh topics to try to glean useful information from him and how you can be relevant in his life. If you consistently show interest in your child and his schoolwork it will also help build his self esteem as it will show you place value on his daily activities.
Another thing you might notice when you review your child’s homework is that you can envision how it must have been in the classroom that day. This too can be a great way to bring something up that will allow you to segue into a meaningful communication with your boy or girl. Often times, dads really want to talk to their child but they’ll be blown off, then they’ll be reluctant to start conversations, and they’ll eventually stop trying. It’s easy for a dad to think that talking to his boy or girl never seems to work and he’ll start to drift away from the day to day life of his child. Sometimes he’ll get lucky and have a conversation, but often times the conversation will go nowhere. If this happens all the time it’s not healthy for the father / child relationship. You must stay in tune with the events in your child’s life with genuine interest. Reviewing your child’s schoolwork is a great tool to keep in your toolbox to do just that.
So to recap:
- Quid pro quo – offer your child information about your day. This will get your child’s interest and get them to want to reciprocate.
- Review your child’s schoolwork and try to get a good understanding of what his or her day was like. Use this information to drum up specific questions that are age appropriate for your child.
- Don’t ask abstract questions or questions that are too open ended.
I hope that these tips help you out with conversations you have with your young children. As always, I appreciate any feedback you have on what’s written here or if you have any suggestions in the same vein.