Yeah yeah I know how tiring it can get answering a barrage of questions from your child. But it has never been easier with google and Wikipedia on our finger tips! So let’s encourage the flow of questions and develop a questioning mindset in our children. So today, let’s talk about Q for Questioning in the #blogchatterA2Z challenge.
Children’s questions play an important role in their cognitive development and enhance their knowledge. Compared to getting information during teaching process, receiving answers to their questions enhances children’s knowledge more, as it is in response to a query that arose in their minds and they are receptive to that piece of knowledge at that time. Contrary to popular belief, when children ask questions it is not for attention purposes but they are actively seeking information. Asking questions is a great way for them to interact with the world around them and build their critical thinking and reasoning skills, vocabulary, creativity, confidence and independence.
You will see however that as children grow up their question go down. This may be because they know and understand the world better – but more likely than not, it is because they have been discouraged to ask questions both at home and school. Teachers are busy finishing syllabi and can’t spend too much time answering questions. Parents, often preoccupied and tired after a day’s work, usually don’t have the time and energy to answer questions. Moreover, the way our education system is designed, it encourages right answers and not questions.
As parents we must nurture children’s innate curiosity and their hunger to learn new things. This means listening carefully and willingly to their questions. Below am sharing some tips how to encourage children to ask more questions:
- Create a safe space for asking questions: First and foremost, we need to ensure that questions are not discouraged, or deemed silly and annoying. Do not tell them to go away or that you don’t have time. Praise them when they ask an interesting question, “wow! This is such a good question! Let’s explore this further”.
- Encourage them to ask questions: whenever you go out or are in a new environment or situation, encourage them to ask questions. You can start by prompting them with questions yourselves. “Why do you think bread goes moldy after a few days?”
- Do not dismiss their questions: maybe you think the answer to a question is very obvious and perhaps by that age they should have known. But don’t dismiss those questions – take time to answer them, understand which part they may not have understood earlier and explain.
- Value their questions: it is possible that your child decides to ask her questions exactly when you are busy or preoccupied. Do not turn her away or show your annoyance. Tell her you are busy and you will come back to her. And then remember to go back to her. Ask her to write her questions down. Designate a place where she could write her questions on a post it and you could write your answers on a post it. You could even make a game out of it.
- Learn to handle difficult or embarrassing questions: you will get questions out of the blue that are embarrassing or those that you are not prepared to answer so soon. Don’t shame or shush them for asking those questions. Give an answer as simply as possible, in an age appropriate way. If you show unease or embarrassment, children will be left with a residual curiosity and always wonder what was different about that question they asked.
- Answer with a question: instead of just supplying them with an answer, prod them a bit and ask them what they think. Try to arrive at the answer together. This way you are helping them develop their reasoning and thinking powers.
- Be honest: if you don’t know the answer to their question, be honest and tell them you don’t know. There is no need to get annoyed at their question. Instead, either try and look up the answer together or direct them to where they can find the answer. “Why don’t you ask your aunt – she works with a bank and can tell you what that number on the cheque book means”
- Introduce them to new things: feed you children’s curiosity. Expose them to new places, things and experiences.
- Expose them to books and informative videos: this will not only answer many of their questions but will also encourage many more to come. Books help in peaking your child’s curiosity by introducing him to new things or concepts.
So the next time you feel irritated by your child’s questions, think of some of these tips and employ them to engage your child!
Read my other blogs on the series here:
C is for Courage of Conviction