I have fond memories of coming home from school each day, delighted to see my mom, and reciting all that I could think of that happened at school that day. I think it was a bit of a game to remember all the fun things to share with her.

After school time can be a wonderful opportunity to share experiences from the day–good and bad–and build your child’s language and conversational skills. Younger children will be more responsive when you don’t ask a direct question like, “What happened in school today?” Instead try some indirect questions, possibly related to a drawing or project they brought home such as, “Wow, I like the fish you have in the picture. I wonder how you made that? or “What did you use to draw the picture?” Let’s see, you had a turkey sandwich for lunch, I wonder what the other kids at your table were eating?” Also ask specific questions about something you know your child likes, “What was fun on the playground today?”

Research by Marvin and Privratsky (1999) showed that when 4 year old children brought home objects from preschool including their art projects, the children referred to recent school activities significantly more than when they did not. Take advantage of these masterpieces, asking open ended questions and don’t forget to listen. There is purpose in every little paper they bring home and your interest in them makes your child feel special.