Reading the Room

Check out our cheat sheet for more context on how to approach the sections below

Use the learning tool to add your own suggestions, comments, ideas, and feedback!

For parents 

  • The idea in Plain English: Reading this room is the skill of walking into a space and adjusting your energy and behavior to match the situation. It is not always an innate skill. Sometimes, we need to teach our kids this very important social skill, often leading by example here. 
  • The goal or takeaway of learning this idea:  Your child will understand how to come into a new room or space and “read the room”, knowing how to appropriately come into the situation

See, Think, Wonder

The “see, think, wonder protocol” is meant to help kids see and think about a new topic in a thoughtful way. After showing the photo or video below for the first time, ask:

  1. What do you see? (Only what you literally see, no opinions or guesses) 
  2. What do you think is going on? ( some educated guesses about what is happening here)
  3. What do you Wonder? (What curiosities do you have after looking at the photo or video?) 

Open the document below to retrieve a printable handout for your child to write on:

See, Think, Wonder Work Sheet

Together Activity 

Read on below for this month’s Together Activities:

Practicing skills is an important way for them to sink in. This month, we will give you a chance to role play with your child, setting up scenes for your kid to practice “reading the room.” 

* Note: if you are setting up a pretend scenario, it may be best to leave out what scene you are setting up to create an authentic reaction from your child *

  1. If you have a local library near you, take your kid to the library. Notice how they react. When you exit, have a conversation about why they acted the way they did when they entered. If your child was loud and ran around, the goal is not to shame and blame, but ask questions about WHY they acted that way, and guide them to notice that others were quiet and working. An alternative to this is to set up a “pretend library” at home, where you (the adults and/or other kids) act like you’re in a library at home by reading quietly in one room. Have your child enter and practice “reading the room” in the same way.
  2. Visit a local park or playground where other kids will be playing. Notice how your child reacts. Discuss later, and ask why they acted the way they did. What were the cues that told them it was okay to run, play and be loud? If they didn’t run and play, asking them why. If this isn’t an option for your family, create a pretend scenario in your home that is loud and fun, asking your child to come in and “read the room.” Discuss after. 
  3. Take a trip to a grocery store, Target, or retail store. Notice how your child reacts. Discuss later, asking them what cues they had to act how they did. Again, if this is not an option, set up a scene of people shopping at a store, and have your child join from a different room. Discuss.

Extra resources

Here are some extra resources for you to read with your kid. Each month there will be a mix of articles and books. We will let you know what is just for you, and to share with your kid. 

Clark the Shark by Bruce Hale is a fun picture book about a shark who can be a little bit “too much shark” sometimes, often forgetting to read the room. This book is a great example for your kids. Some questions to ask as your read are:

  • Why did Clark’s friends top playing with him?
  •  What does the author mean when he writes that Clark “played too hard and even helped too hard?”
  • Why does the teacher say there is a “time and a place for everything?”
  • Ask your child if they have ever felt like a friend was acting like Clark the Shark. Ask them if they think they have ever been like Clark the Shark. 
  • What lesson is the story trying to teach us?

Weekly Questions

Week 1: Have you ever walked into a room and not known how to act or what to do? How did that make you feel?

Week 2: If you walk into a room where people are speaking in hushed tones, how would you act? How would people act if you walked in screaming?

Week 3: When is a good time to walk into a room with a big loud voice? What makes you feel that way?

Week 4: How do you like our home to feel and look? How can we make our home become more like what you hope it could feel and look like?