Q: I love that during the school year I can spark conversation by asking my child what she did during the school day. If she doesn’t disclose much, the monthly newsletter and glimpses into her homework folder would give us something educational to discuss. School is almost out, how can I keep the conversations going?
A: This is a great question. When school ends, there is no reason why the conversations need to end, too. Although school communication and assignments allow for easier educational introductions, there are other ways to keep talking. Here are some ways to chat it up with your children!
Question jar. If your child attends day camp, you take day trips or you hang around the neighborhood, compile a bunch of questions in a jar and each day have your child select one to answer. The questions can be anything from “What kind of exercise did you participate in today, and what part of the body did it stretch?” to “What was your favorite food of the day, and do you know what food group it is from?” or “Name someone you enjoyed spending time with and describe this person with one adjective.” These can be done during dinner, bath time or bedtime. Choose a time during which your child will respond best.
Research assistants. I am a huge proponent of anything literature related. Summer is a great time to exercise this skill but in a more relaxed manner. After a year of mandatory projects, have some educational fun! Pick a subject that you and your child are both interested in learning about together. Maybe there is an intriguing person you are curious about or you both love cooking and want to research how to make Indian food. Spend time at the library and online researching together, discovering all that there is to know about your person or topic.
Researching, although it might sound boring, is actually quite riveting, given that you are learning about something you choose. It involves all aspects of literacy (reading, writing, listening and speaking), and it can be done as a unit. Share your findings, work together, and before you realize it, you will have more conversations than hours in the day!
Say cheese. Vacations, beach visits, family trips – they’re all part of those summer month activities. Document fun times by taking pictures and then creating summer collages as a family. I always find that art projects are the perfect opportunity to talk with children. When kids are occupied and enjoying themselves, there is less hesitation in answering questions, opening up and sharing thoughts. As you cut, glue and create your collages, have some quality talks about the activities, why they were so enjoyable and what was learned in the process.
The learning can be non-traditional as well. Fishing trips, discovering shells at the beach and celebrating holidays such as July 4th make for perfect real world educational experiences that create lots of meaningful chatter!
***If you have an educational question related to this topic or any other educational area, just ASK AMANDA! You can contact her at [email protected] or respond below in the comments section below.
Amanda Lehrman, founder of TheMommaFiles, is a trained teacher and curriculum consultant. She attended Fordham University and received an M.S.T in Elementary Education and has worked with the Accelerated Literacy Learning program as well as Teachers College Reading and Writing projects, Kaplan K-12 and Catapult Learning. Amanda currently teaches 3rd through 5th grade students in a Gifted & Talented program in Edison, NJ.
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