Asking questions
         Wouldn’t you like to know what is going on in your child’s mind? Isn’t it
amazing to see the thinking process at work? One of the joys of being around
children is seeing how they make sense of their world. Tapping into this process is
eye-opening to parents and teachers alike.
 
         One way to get inside your child’s thought process is by asking
open-ended questions. This type of question is a way to encourage her to use
her existing knowledge and intertwine it with conjecture.
 
         An open-ended question is one for which there is not only one answer. This
also means that there is neither a correct or incorrect response.
 
         When you talk to your child, you never know where the conversation will
lead when you use open-ended questions. Imagine being together in a new
setting and asking, “What does this remind you of?” There is something that
reminds you of one place, but there is very likely something about it that recalls
a totally different experience to your child 
 
         In a situation where events have not gone well, you can encourage your
child to think through an alternative action by asking, “What could you do the
next time?”

         Even the very youngest of children can explain what they are up to if you
ask, during the process of making something creative, “What do you call those
things you’re using?”
 
         When children seem to know something that I wouldn’t expect them to
know, I ask, “How do you know?” That’s a good way to check where the
knowledge came from or to see if the kid is making something up.
 
        Here are some more open-ended questions and examples of how you
may want to ask them with your young ones:
 
        When they are constructing something, ask, “Is there anything else you
could use?”
 
        At a turning point in a story you are reading, ask, “What do you think will
happen next?”
 
        When a character gets himself in a jam, ask, “What would you do if you
were in that situation?”
 
        When she tells you the answer to a math problem, ask, “How did you
figure that out?”

        This column has been incorporated into Teach Your Children Well: A Teacher’s Advice for Parents

 
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