Your child has begun school!
This first big step is perhaps the most significant moment in the life of a two year old and the second most significant moment in your life as a parent, the first being the moment of his/her birth itself.
Separation anxiety is a natural phenomenon that not only every pre-schooler goes through but also their parents. And naturally so, as it is the first time that the child attends playschool, it is also the first time that you (as a parent) probably spend all of two hours away from the apple of your eye. As much as the child feels in awe of his/her new surroundings, so will the parents feel the vacuum of those two hours hanging heavy on them.
So invariably the moment your child steps out of the vicinity of the playschool and into your waiting arms, your first question fired at him is: “How was school?”
The aim of this question could be any of the following:
1. To assuage the feeling of guilt arising within you because you packed off your two year old to a new place, away from you, for all off 2 – 3 hours. It is almost as if you were a surgeon cutting the umbilical cord all over again!
2. To re-assure yourself that you made the right choice by sending the kid to a particular preschool
3. To attempt to be a part of his whole new world that has suddenly sprouted up! In other words, the parent is wanting a legitimate entry into the child’s ‘home away from home ‘
4. To soothe your parental nerves with regards to safety and security of your ward
Whatever be the cause, it is but natural for parents to want to know each and every detail of the moments the child spent away from their watchful eyes.
Fair enough. If that is the aim, the urge to ask such a question is a natural offshoot of parental mind-set. But to elicit apt feedback from the child, it is desirable that the parent be equipped with suitable questions, which are open ended and do not draw a monosyllabic response from a child (a monosyllabic response in the this case would be the words – ‘yes’ or ‘no’, ‘good’ or ‘bad’)
Open ended questions encourage the child to think and respond, to respond and not react and to go beyond the monosyllables and answer in context using sentences. So dear parents, instead of asking, “How was school”, try asking :
1. What was the best thing that happened at school today?
2. Whom did you play with during playtime or recess? What did you play?
3. What word did your teacher say the most today?
4. Who is the funniest person in the class? Why is she/he so funny?
5. If you could change seats with anyone in the class, who would you trade with? Why?
6. Is there anyone in your class who needs a time-out? Why do you say so?
7. Tell me 5 new words that you learnt at school today.
8. If you became the teacher of your class tomorrow, what would you do?
9. Who would you not want to sit with in class? Why?
10. How did you help someone in class today?
11. When did you get bored in school today?
12. Tell me three times when you used a pencil in school today?
13. How did you help someone in class today?
14. Did you make any new friends in school today? Tell me their names please.
15. Where do you play the most during playtime /snack break/ recess?
16. If I called your teacher today, what do you think she will say?
• The answers that such questions elicit will help you to know more about your child’s day at school.
• It will also help to soothe anxious nerves as the child learns to share all aspects of his/her school time with you.
• It breeds honesty and forthrightness.
• As you hear his /her answers, it helps the child to validate his/her feelings as well.
• By asking such questions, you are creating a strong link between the school and home. The child understands that the two are connected.
Remember, parenting is a skill! And each skill requires continuous honing.
All the very best.