I volunteer with three and four-year-olds every week and I absolutely love it! I don’t know if it’s a compliment or a hint I am not picking up on but they always tend to throw me the new kids, the unhappy kids and that one kid that likes to just stand in the corner. By the end of the hour, 98% of them leave having loved their time in our class and wanting to come back. I see that as a win in my book!
Here is the thing to remember: preschoolers are no different than everyone else you know. They have opinions, likes & dislikes, good days & bad days, things that make them laugh and things that make them cry. The only difference is the content. (I’m guessing your favorite show is not Word World and your best joke does not involve “boogies”… if so, you may be taking your role as Preschool SGL a little too seriously.)
But the one fail safe commonality between all humankind is this: EVERYONE LIKES TO TALK ABOUT THEMSELVES. This little tidbit works at the office, at parties, with your spouse and even that three-year-old you have to physically tear away from her mother.
So get down on her level and ask her about herself. (Go ahead… give it a whirl right now while no one’s watching. It’ll give you practice for Sunday when you really have to do it.) For the kids that I know that do not want to talk, I always start with “Yes” or “No” questions. Most of them will nod yes or no before they will talk to me. I have found this to be a great way to break the ice and get them communicating with me. This makes it easier to jump into questions that I know they will need to actually use words more than a “yes” or “no” to answer. If they still will not talk, I start guessing their answers with silly answers. Like if they nod that they have a pet, but will not tell me what kind or the name, I will guess alligator, lion, monkey or “is your dog’s name Alexander the Great, Barbie, Spiderman or Bathsheba?” (Come on, that is funny and they have no idea what I am talking about.)
Here are a few of my favorites that you may want to try sometime:
• Tell me about your family. Do you have any brothers or sisters?
• Do you have any pets?
• What did you eat for breakfast?
• What was something fun you did yesterday?
• How was work (or the office) this week? -Most kids know what this is and they find it funny that I would even ask. They will then correct me and tell me they don’t work. I will follow this up with other questions about how do they not have a job? I keep this going until they are laughing about how silly I am.
Remember to stay away from questions about whatever parent/guardian is coming back to pick them up (we’re trying to take their minds OFF Mommy). Just be silly. Every kid loves someone who doesn’t mind acting a fool (that is what YouTube is all about, right?).
So what do you do when you find yourself with the kid who just wants to sit under the table and won’t come out?