by Esther Jantzen, guest poster
Kids have lots of different reasons for asking questions. Sometimes they want attention or they want to argue with the family rules. Sometimes they are seeking new information and understanding, and those are excellent questions to encourage.
The trick is to notice thoughtful questions when they are asked, and praise children for them with a response like, “That’s a great question!” If you can answer those questions right away, do that. But sometimes you don’t know the answer or the timing is not appropriate. Be sure to remember those questions and answer them later. Here is a way to do this:
1. One of the best ways to get your child to ask good questions is to ask thoughtful questions yourself.
Here are some examples.
Ask “I wonder” questions:
- How does it work?
- What came before this? Why?
- Ask “Do I believe it?” questions:
- Where did this information come from?
- Is it based on facts?
Ask values questions:
- Is this honest?
- Is this helpful?
- Does this hurt anyone?
- Is it fair?
Ask questions that encourage creativity:
- What can we do with this information?
- How could we solve that problem?
2. When your children ask thoughtful questions like these above, praise them with a comment like, “That is an interesting thing to wonder about!”
3. This activity can be done any time, anywhere. The more often you do it, the more comfortable both you and the children will become, and the better questions you will each ask.
Esther Jantzen, Ed.D, is a mother, an educator and the author of Plus It! How to Easily Turn Everyday Activities into Learning Adventures for Kids available at www.plusitbook.com and the Way to Go! Family Learning Journal available through www.jantzenbooks.com