It takes skill and practice to ask good questions of children, as well as a commitment to slow down to really listen to what children are telling us, through both non verbal and verbal communication. The art and science of questioning is an acquired skill, one that can create many learning opportunities with your child.
Here are 5 strategies to ask good questions
- Ask one question at a time. Multiple questions at the same time create confusion. A constant barrage of questions is very likely to overwhelm children. E.g. Did you come to Singapore on an airplane? Which airline? How was the food?
- Avoid too many closed questions. Closed questions limit responses as they often invite short one word answers like ‘yes’ and ‘no’. Closed questions often request specific facts or information. However, it is important to remember that we ask questions to stimulate children’s thinking, to encourage discovery and build interest, not simply to obtain ‘correct’ or predetermined answers.
- Try not to answer your own questions. E.g. What was on your sandwich? Cheese? Did you like it? Yes? To communicate and connect meaningfully, allow your child to share his or her feelings, understandings and theories. Show that you are genuinely interested to know what he or she thinks, feels and believes.
- Do not rush your child to provide an answer. Build in thinking time so that your child can reflect and then respond. Encourage your child to consider a question and to think deeply, at his or her own pace. Perhaps he or she needs to reflect on prior experiences, talk with others to find out more, or even do some research.
- Look out for non verbal responses. Children communicate their thoughts in many different languages. Young children may not be able to necessarily communicate with words. Listen with all your senses and you will be able to unlock beautiful and meaningful moments with your child.
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