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« #7: You can set a few, key rules, and still be a hip parent | Main | #9: Praise a job well done! »

#8: Prompt...then take a minute to LISTEN.

Ask open-ended questions. Every Tinkergarten activity comes with sample questions. Here are some old standbys that always seem to do the trick:

  • “Tell me about your (collection you just made, structure you just built, instrument you just fashioned out of antler and bone…whatever kids have produced).”
  • “How did you do that?” Note: If they don’t give you much, probe further—“What did you do first?” or “How did you get started?”
  • “How did you get the idea (to climb that tree, move that log, make that design out of pine cones, etc.)?”
  • What was challenging about that? What felt easy about that?
  • Which is your favorite (tree, log, bird, etc.). Why?

Listen as attentively as you can. We so often have to choose between our kids and the laundry list of other things demanding our attention. Make this a time to give them undivided attention. They'll notice, and you'll find that by doing so, you'll help them to flourish.

When you ask a question or prompt them, give kids a few seconds longer to respond than you typically would. You may be surprised by how much a little extra wait time helps them start to talk.

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