A few parents have asked me what words they can use to discuss their child's preschool day with them. And one in particular asked me to do a blog post about it. I thought that was a great idea, so here is the post.
It can be difficult to get much information from your preschooler about their day. There are a variety of reasons for this. For one, they are often so fluidly moving from activity to activity that it could literally be hard for them to recall specific things they did. Another factor is that they may be questioned about their preschool day several hours after preschool and that can also affect their memory of the specifics (how well those of us who are "older" can understand this one!!). And, of course, another factor may be that the words adults use to ask them about their day may be different from the words we use to describe things at school. So the child becomes confused by the question and is unable to offer much information. I am hoping this post will help some with the latter issue. I'm not sure much can be done to remedy the other issues, but it will definitely will help to use the right "jargon".
First, at school we refer to the materials and activities mostly as "work." This is just kind of a Montessori thing. Many or most of the materials wouldn't necessarily be called "toys", nor would the children necessarily think that they "played with" things. So if you ask them questions like, "What did you play with?" or "What toys did you play with?", you are unlikely to get much of a response. However, if you say, "What did you work with?" or "What work did you do?" or "What did you take off the shelf?", you may yield better answers.
Second, if you aren't getting a lot of specifics about the "work" your child is doing, don't give up on trying to have a conversation with them about their day. It may be that their "work time" is not standing out in their mind as the most salient or "important" part of their day. That doesn't mean they aren't learning or busy during work time. Rather, there just may be other parts of our preschool day that are more preferred by your child. If this is the case, you could ask them things like, "What songs did you sing on the line today?" If you read my blog regularly and have a child in my class, I will try to post most of our songs under the sidebar category called "Montessori---Group Activities". So you could specifically ask them if they sang the "Bakery Shop" song, for example.
If your child loves being outdoors, you could ask them about what they did outside or who they played with. For many children, this is a highlight of their preschool day. Additionally, most children will at least tell you about what they had for snack. When my oldest child went through Montessori preschool, that was the most reliable piece of information I gleaned from him.
Also keep in mind that all children (like all of us adults) are different. Some will voluntarily share with you many details about their preschool experience and some (like both of my boys, I'm afraid) are not as inclined to share a lot about their day. If your child falls into the latter category, don't despair. As far as I know, there is no correlation between amount of learning and amount of talking about their learning. Remember................so much of the learning that is going on within your child is just that..........within.
And for a final thought..............try to think about what your own adult response would be if, at the end of a full work day, you were intensely questioned about all the details of what you did for the duration of the time you were away from the questioner. Sometimes, you'd just prefer to not talk about it. Not because it was bad, just because. You know what I mean?? And............it's okay.