I’m pretty sure I have spoken with every single child at Saul Mirowitz Jewish Community School. I know what books they are reading and their favorite Paw Patrol episodes. Older students have shared details about their experience at overnight camp, their love for a specific class, and ideas they feel might make their beloved school even better. I have played full-court basketball with middle schoolers and held a couple of dance parties in younger grades. Engaging with children by joining them in the things they love is among the most rewarding parts of my job.
It is this joyful engagement with your children that allows me to build a trusting and respectful relationship with each of them, and when I do so, I purposefully model how to treat others with kindness and kavod (respect).
A March 2018 report from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that “the sheer amount of language, the number of adult words, was not related to brain activation or verbal skills,” but rather to the “amount of back-and-forth conversation between children and adults. We think this research finding suggests, instead of talking at or to your child, you really need to talk with your child to have meaningful brain development and language development” (Hechinger Report, 2018).
Our children can become their best when we thoughtfully interact with them, and I’m sure you agree that those interactions are meaningful to us, as well.
When my children were young, I was interested to know what they were doing all day at school. I am sure you must be, too.
I always felt that car drives were a great time for conversation, free of the distractions of technology. It’s even more powerful in Middle School, when kids appreciate the ability to share without the need for eye contact.
Just like all of us, your child may not want to share a play-by-play of their day. Instead, simple questions and relaxed opportunities for talking seem to work best. Give these prompts a try:
What made you smile today?
Can you share an example of kindness you saw today?
What did you do that was creative?
Who did you talk with at lunch? What did you talk about?
Tell me something you know today that you didn’t know yesterday.
What was the most difficult rule to follow today?
If you could change one thing about your day, what would it be?
What made your teacher smile today?
What kind of person were you today?
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to interact with your children every day. I feel so very fortunate!