Whatever your child’s age or ability, you will need to find a way to help them ‘talk’ about what they’re good at, what they find hard and what their hopes, dreams and goals are. You’ll need to work out the best way to do this in a relaxed and playful way, which meets them on their level. Home is often the best place to do this, though anywhere they feel comfortable or safe will work just as well.
Here are some top tips from parents and DiAS volunteers about how to do this:
- Listen out for opportunities that come up when your child starts to talk about nursery or school, and encourage them to explore it more.
- Collect their views over a few days or weeks. Sometimes it helps to keep things short and talk about it a few times.
- Write down what they say or record it in some way before you forget it. Sometimes a direct quote can sum up how they think or feel about an issue very well.
- Sometimes children will tell you want they think you want to hear, or say the first thing that comes to mind, so it’s worth having more than one go.
- Try talking to them when you don’t have to look at each other – when you’re in the car or on a walk together. That can help to keep things light and take the pressure off.
- Use play to help you. You could use puppets, toys, modelling clay or Lego to come up with their own story of what’s important and what they want their life to look like.
- If your child is old enough and has the skills, they could write or type something or even record a video message.
One of our volunteers has put together some top tips based on her experiences of talking to children about school.
The Three Houses tool and the Three Islands tool are simple ways to help your child share what they think and feel about their lives. You can use it to help them talk about home, school or both.
Drawing can be a great way of helping a child to express themselves if they’re finding using words difficult. One useful way to do this is to ask your child to draw their day in a big circle like a clock, from when they get up all the way round to when they go to bed. They can use speech and thought bubbles to show what’s going on for them and the people around them. Using different colours for different emotions throughout the day is another useful way to add more detail.
If your child has been assessed by an educational psychologist, they may have spent time finding out what your child thinks about school too. You can look at this information as well and ask your child if they want to share it as part of their views.
There is also a range of free to use person-centred thinking tools you can try with your child.