A few different blogs have been posted about making the drop off in the morning easier…but let’s talk about pick up! While it may be the easier of the two tasks, there can be some emotions or struggles involved at the end of the day.
When you arrive at the school for pick up, make sure that you are finished with your phone calls, texts, etc. (Maybe even leave your phone in the car while you come into school). If you’ve had “a day,” take a minute in the parking lot to take a deep breath and get to a good spot. Your child should have all of your attention on him…he’s been waiting since drop off to see you again!
Toddlers especially may have big emotions (crying or tears) when they see you at the end of the day. While they feel comfortable and secure at school, you are their absolute safe space. They have navigated their entire day without you and are ready for a giant hug. Primary children may feel the same but express it different ways. They may be pouty, grumpy or quiet…and sometimes they may not even know why they feel this way. Find what your child needs….does he need a big hug and some space, does he want to talk things through, does he just need you close by. As adults, we know at the end of the day if it went well or not, if we are anxious, overwhelmed, etc. We can go for a walk or pour a glass of wine to unwind and decompress.
Do you have to run errands, stop at the bank, have a longer drive, get ready for a night out? Plan accordingly…have an extra snack or water for your child if you are running errands and can’t eat on time. Use the bathroom before you leave school if you will be in the car for a while. Give your child a heads up as to what may be different about your evening. A little bit of planning goes a long way!
Talking about day
Most children answer the questions “what did you do today?” with a vague “I don’t know”, “nothing,” “played.” Try to ask some specific questions first to get your child thinking back over the day. Some questions that can get the ball rolling:
• Who was the snack person?
• What was for snack?
• Who did you each lunch with?
• What songs did you sing in circle? (Or if you know some of the class favorite songs, ask specifically, did you sing Old MacDonald)
• Did Ms Pam come today?
• Did you work with (name certain friends)?
• Did you do the —— work?
This gets the child back in gear to talk about his day. Also model how it’s done and talk about your day. It may seem boring to you to talk about a meeting but with some great vocabulary, it can be an interesting story.
Once at home
Find a routine that works for your family and try to stick with it. Have your child responsible for unpacking his things and putting them in a certain spot every day. Then adjust the time until dinner to suit your child’s needs. Does he need 10 minutes of your undivided attention to start off his evening? Does he want to be alone? Can he work in the kitchen or help with dinner prep? Is he “hangry”?
By being prepared, looking ahead, giving a little positive attention first and loving on your child…it should set your family up for a successful evening.