Children are naturally curious and inquisitive about the world around them. Curiosity drives their thirst for learning. When they are young they begin asking questions such as “Why is the sky blue?” and “Why is the baby crying?” Asking questions provides opportunities for children to interact with the environment around them and build critical thinking skills. While it is challenging at times for parents to keep up with the children’s questions, we do not want them to stop asking these questions. Questions and being inquisitive help stimulate children’s thinking, extend their experiences and make deep connections with the world around them.
To encourage children to ask questions, we need to model asking good questions. It is important that you model asking questions which are ‘open-ended.’ Open-ended questions are questions that are challenging and can develop children’s thinking skills. Such questions open up conversations. When you ask an open-ended question, you don’t know what the child’s answer is going to be. Close-ended questions usually limit conversation to one- or two-word responses, and sometimes they end the conversation.
For example, if it is a close-ended question, such as, “What colour is this?” has just one answer, which ends the conversation. The same question can be made open ended when we ask, “You used a lot of blue in your painting. What does it remind you of How does it make you feel?”
5 strategies to support your children in asking questions:
1. Encourage your child to ask “why”. It is important for children to know why things happen and they ask questions to gain information.
2. If your child asks a question and you do not know the answer, it is fine to say, “ I do not know but let’s find out together.” You can work with your child to research and find answers to the questions.
3. Value the questions that your child asks. If you get flustered or annoyed easily by your child’s questions, he/she may begin to think that you do not want to answer questions or that asking questions is not okay. Focus on showing your child that questions matter by giving encouraging responses. This will encourage your child to ask questions freely and feel good about being curious.
4. If we want children to be confident in asking questions, we will have to model asking questions. Ask questions around specific experiences. When they see another child crying, try asking, “Why is that baby crying? What do you think happened to make the baby sad?"
5. Give children enough time to think and come up with questions.
It is important to have meaningful and rich interactions with your children whenever you can. It is important to model the art of conversation with your child. Supporting children to ask questions helps them to wonder and explore the world around them.
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