How to listen to children through interests and chats

Valuing and including parents is important (both the at-home and the parent who is going away) when organising these learning experiences. Understanding parental beliefs and practices will assist you with knowing what you can and cannot discuss. Parents may also offer ideas and be able to inform your choices. Because they may have further ideas and items to include, also be prepared for them to ask you not to do certain things or discuss certain things. Additionally, chatting with parents about key service or remote worker related words and their meanings can help support workers to help young children and to better understand their lives.

Create an 'interest' table about the location where the parent is going to go to work. Include information about:

  • geography and geographical features, such as rivers, seas, mountains, plains, deserts, tropical rainforests
  • weather and season
  • time differences (for older children)
  • agriculture and regional foods
  • schools and preschools, and early childhood centres
Children, India, Education, Classroom

You can include:
  • maps
  • equipment
  • uniforms
  • cultural dress or dolls
  • pictures of shops and marketplaces
  • pictures of food
  • pictures of buildings. For example, houses, temples, churches, civic buildings, schools, countryside, Google Earth Zoom images into attractive places

Education, Student, Boy, School

Learn greetings from the country where the parent is and include a recording and a pictured word sign.

Girl, Child, Female, Talking, Singing


Informal conversations with the child and parent can help to find out what activities are the child’s favourite. This will help you to prepare them so they can be on hand during transition times within the family. These activities might also be helpful during times when the child is having trouble separating or playing with peers. Get the child involved in setting up some of their favourite activities and planning when and where the activity might be done. 

When you have the child talking, try to ask open-ended, leading questions that encourage the child to diverge. Use the opportunity to label and express emotions tied to deployment, relocation and their own and family members' responses. Chat to the parent that the child has chatted about certain things so that if they continue talking at home, the parent has some context. Additionally, the parent might choose to use the opportunity to explore the issues further.

For children 9-12 years

Children can write a poem about their experiences of parents working away. Help them to add some music to the poem. This could be simple sound effects used as they read the poem or a melody or background music that matches the poem that could be played before or after a reading of the poem.

Children create a cartoon scene about a family experiencing a parent working away. Ask them to record themselves telling the story as they show each cartoon scene. This can also be done using Zoom or Explain Everything programs or similar software.

Children can add a soundtrack to the cartoons they create using various sound sources, such as body percussion, voice, percussion, and other instruments.

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Last modified: Wednesday, 7 February 2024, 11:27 AM