Ask the right question
Asking questions is an overlooked and underrated way to help children learn. Asking good questions takes thought and time but it is a skill well worth practicing.
Asking the right questions can help your children develop foundational learning skills, especially those of language and curiosity.
Good questions can also help develop self-confidence and foster the relationship you have with your child.
There are two types of questions – closed questions and open questions.
Closed questions can be answered with one word. For example;
‘Do you want to go out?’
‘Have you done your homework?’
‘Are you going to do your homework?’
‘Are you still playing video games?’
These questions are a way of getting information but they don’t do more than that. Your child is giving you the answer to your question but he hasn’t had to think or use any language skills.
Open questions are questions that needs to be answered in sentences.
These are questions that your child has to think about before he answers, then has to find the words he needs and use them in a convincing sentence or phrase. They require work.
For example – the closed questions above could be changed to open questions
‘Do you want to go out?’ – could become – ’If you go out what would you like to do?’
‘Have you done your homework?’ – could become – ‘How did you finish your work so quickly?’
Are you going to do your homework? – could become – How much homework do you have tonight?’
Are you still playing video games? – could become – ‘What is so interesting about that game?’
Whenever you can take the time to change closed questions into open ones. It may seem difficult at first but, with practice, it becomes quite easy and very rewarding.
Here are three types of questions you can use – and how to use them.
- General questions.
There are five W’s, When, Who, Which, What, Whose, and, of course, ‘How’.
Using these question words is a quick and easy way to start asking open questions.
- Why did you do that?
- How are you going to get the washing up done?
- What are you going to do tonight?
- When are you going to see your friends?
These questions can be used throughout the day in a variety of situations.
- Specific questions that develop your child’s thinking skills
I call these the ‘so what’ questions.
- ‘So, what did you learn today?’
- ‘So, what did you like in school today?’
- ‘So, what does that mean?
- ‘So, what do you think you will do next?’
Your child is going to have to think about the answer. He is developing his thinking skills.
So the ‘so what’ questions can be quite challenging for children to answer and they can also be challenging for parents to use. Use them selectively. Instead of asking, ‘What did you learn in school today?’, – a question all kids hate – try ‘What did you like about school today?’, or, ‘What
did you dislike about school today?
- Questions you can use to help your child make homework less stressful
These are questions you can use before your child actually settles down to do the work.
- How will you do that?
- How will we find out?
- How can we find out?
- How can you find out what to do?
- What do you think the problem is?
- Can we make a plan?
- Where will you start?
Here are some questions you can use when your child is doing their work.
- How is this question different from the one you did yesterday?
- How is writing this essay like the essay you did last month?
- How could you make this easier for yourself?
- maybe you could approach the problem in a different way?
- Have you done this before?
- What do you need to do next?
- Can you think of a better way to do this?
Your task is to choose a couple of these questions and start using them with your child. If asking these questions seems strange to you practice asking them in front of a mirror or write them down where you can easily see them.
Do whatever you need to get into the habit of asking open questions, questions that help to develop your child’s thinking skills. You might be amazed at how much your child knows!
If you want to discuss your concerns contact me and we will set up a time to talk.