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Kids love to learn what, how, and why. They seem to have a questions sac within them that overflows with renewable questions.
This behavior is normal. When kids start growing, they need to make sense of how they should talk, act and feel. They need to acquire enough knowledge to understand what goes on around them.
While kids learn a lot by observing and copying what older people do, the bunch of their lessons revolves around getting answers to questions.
However, kids may ask silly questions sometimes. They’re not pulling your leg; they don’t know how to ask good questions yet.
If you feel that kids around you could use some question-asking tutorial, here is a comprehensive one. In this article, you’ll learn how to teach kids around you to ask better questions.
Why do kids ask so many questions?
Kids come across new things more frequently than you think. Before they start talking, they learn about new things in their environment by observing what others around them do.
However, they can only learn so much by looking around them. There are things that you can’t learn by just looking around you alone.
As they grow older, they learn to ask questions to get what they want. If they’re curious about a specific thing, they ask about it until they get a suitable answer. This curiosity is the main reason why kids ask questions.
However, kids seldom get satisfactory answers. When learning about something new, they don’t only want to know what, but also why and how.
This heightened curiosity and dissatisfaction combine to form the basis for why most kids ask so many questions. No wonder most kindergarten students ask over 300 questions every day.
Importance of kids asking good questions
Kids build their initial perception of the world through questions. Since your kids aren’t born with the knowledge of everything around them, they must learn to figure it out themselves.
Generally, kids that ask more questions tend to be more intelligent over the long term. Teaching your kids to ask more questions could help them become better learners overall.
How to encourage kids to ask good questions
The secret to teaching kids to ask better questions is to encourage the curiosity that births their numerous questions.
However, curiosity alone doesn’t compel kids to ask good questions. If you want your kids to ask better and more mature questions, you need to teach them how to achieve that.
Fortunately, some strategies have worked for others in teaching kids to ask good questions.
Strategies that teach kids to ask good questions encourage curiosity and compel the kids to ask more questions.
How To Teach Kids To Ask Good Questions
Here are some simple but effective strategies to copy when teaching your kids to ask better questions about anything.
1- Take questions about everything, every time.
Kids always have something to ask. However, if you make it a habit to avoid most of their questions, they will be less inclined to ask more questions.
In any teaching or learning process, you should let the kids interrupt with questions. While you may decide to answer later, you want to make sure you’re not making them feel like their questions make no sense.
In addition to that, always ask if the kids have anything to ask. When teaching students, especially kids, it’s crucial to stop at intervals to ask if the students have any questions.
At the same time, you need to avoid offensive or disrespectful questions. Making it clear that specific questions aren’t welcome will help kids ask better questions over time.
2- Provide a forum for anonymous questions
Sometimes, kids have questions but are scared those questions will be unwelcome. However, these kids will be willing to ask these questions if you can guarantee their anonymity.
And that’s what you need to do. When reading a story to kids or tutoring them on a specific topic, it is crucial to provide little ‘question notes’ to write questions about the topic.
Sticky notes work best for this purpose. They’re not only small and fun but also inviting, encouraging kids to write on them.
Also, you can collect the anonymous questions in a question box. It wouldn’t be anonymous if they had to read their questions out loud, would it?
You can reuse a carton or an old shoebox as the questions box. You may want to choose fancy colors to make it endearing to the kids.
Every day, you open the questions box and answer as many questions as possible. Also, you can complement the creativity of the asker, encouraging them to ask the question in person next time.
This strategy doesn’t only build the questioning confidence of the students but also lets them ask questions that they otherwise can’t.
3- Provide support for questions
While most students have the curiosity required to ask questions, they struggle to put it into words, hindering their abilities to ask creative questions.
You can help to overcome this struggle. When you notice that your students or kids struggle to ask questions, you can support them devise creative questions.
You don’t have to tell students what questions to ask explicitly; that eliminates the flair from the whole questioning process. Instead, provide question stems that give potential question starters.
For example, you can read a passage about octopi and ask the students to ask questions. If they struggle, you can help them determine what kind of questions to come up with, using phrases that compel them to ask questions.
You can tell them to ask questions on ‘what octopi use…’ and hear a stream of questions come in.
The goal is to get questions like ‘what do octopi use their tentacles for?’ or ‘what do they use eight brains and three hearts for?’
You can provide many potential question pathways to encourage even more questions from the kids after every lesson.
Not only does this strategy help the kids come up with questions, but it also convinces them that questions are welcome, and you want them to ask any question.
This relaxing environment will encourage the kids to think straight and come up with even better questions over the years.
4- Appreciate thoughtful questions
Asking great questions is an art, and arts deserve rewards. If you don’t have good questions, you can’t provide good answers, can you?
That’s why it’s crucial to appreciate kids that ask good questions. During a questioning session, you should always go out of the way to point out exceptional questions.
However, if a student asked a good question anonymously, you can seize the opportunity to talk about the importance of asking questions in person.
If you’re the appreciative teacher that gives thanks to their students for doing anything, you need to do better than saying ‘good question’ whenever a student asks a good question.
Giving the student a high-five or even a sticker works well and encourages others to ask similar questions.
This approach doesn’t only show that you value thoughtful questions, but it also associates some potential rewards to activities kids already enjoy.
This way, you can get them to participate in class activities to the fullest, asking good questions when necessary.
5- Organizing a wonder day/week project
In most learning environments, there is the highly-regarded belief that the person with the correct answer passes, and anything else is a failure. Also, people believe that the speed at which you can come up with correct answers determines your intelligence.
That’s somewhat defendable but also very flawed. Sometimes, being uncertain opens the door to more knowledge. Uncertainty creates curiosity, and curiosity births questions.
Ultimately, students have to find answers to questions that were a result of their curiosity, and they’ll end up learning better than they could’ve done if they knew the solution.
A wonderful day or week tries to integrate this into the traditional learning environment to encourage acquiring knowledge through problem-based research.
Here are the steps in a typical wonder week project to help you plan out yours.
- Let the students come up with a problem they want to solve. You can narrow it down by restricting the scope, but they should come up with their topics. Questions can be in the form of: ‘I’m wondering how planes fly.’
- After coming up with the topic, the kids should also prepare questions they’ll like to answer about it.
- Get answers to the questions using various means. These can include experimentation, interviewing professionals, and online research.
- The kids can share the results of their research and all the lessons learned in a digital presentation afterward.
Wonder days can help kids come up with questions that are relevant to a subject matter. They can also learn how to find answers to their questions without having to rely on their teachers.
Depending on how much time you have to spare, wonder days or weeks can take anywhere between one and five days.
6- Set up a wonder wall/an inquiry wall
Every great question stems from kids wondering why things work the way they do. That’s why I’ve mentioned wonder days, and here is a wonder wall again.
Setting up a wonder wall is even easier than organizing a wonder week project. All you need is a board/wall where kids can post their questions.
After setting up the perfect wonder wall, you want the students to come up with creative questions to post on the wall.
You can start by having everyone fill a blank sheet of paper with questions. You want to let the students feel relaxed during the activity. The comfort will enable them to think well and come up with both dumb and creative questions.
After every student has filled up a page with questions, you can have them pick out their favorite ten questions from the lot.
If you’re teaching a bunch of kids, answering ten questions from each may be burdensome. In this case, the students may have to narrow their questions down to a respectable number.
This approach is an excellent way to teach students to ask questions. Reading them a boring science book and asking them if they have any questions doesn’t always work. However, if they have the time to think and come up with questions, they’ll do well.
You can decide to provide them with the answers to their questions if you want or teach them how to come up with the solutions themselves.
How they get the answers to the questions doesn’t matter here. What matters is them asking creative questions.
7- Play question games.
Kids love to have fun. What’s a better way to teach them to ask good questions by using what they love?
A question game helps kids learn how to ask questions around a particular topic to make it easier to replicate in the outside world.
There are many question games, and there isn’t a bad one. You can play the 20 questions game with your kids to help them learn how they can discover new things by asking questions.
When playing the questions game, you appoint one person as the oracle. The oracle looks for a word and tells the other participants what type it is (animal, place).
The other participants can ask up to 20 questions from the oracle, and they must figure out what the word is before the questions run out.
The questions can only be yes/no questions. When someone thinks they know the answer, they pass it as a question, like: ‘is it a cat?’
The first person to get it right becomes the new oracle, and the game continues.
This game is an excellent way to teach kids to collect information about things by only asking questions.
8- Practice often
If you want your kids to be excellent questioners, you must learn to practice regularly. You don’t become an expert questioner by playing the 20 questions game or using the questions box once.
Whatever method you’re using to teach your kids to ask good questions, you want to practice it very often. Consider organizing monthly wonder days and keeping up a wonder board permanently in the class.
Also, you may present frequent questioning tests, games, and even fake interviews and press conferences.
If students do this at regular intervals, they’ll eventually normalize the art of asking questions, making them terrifically excellent questioners.
9- Explain the different question types
Once your kids are comfortable asking questions, it’s time to teach them the different kinds of questions and when and how to ask them. In this sense, I mean clarifying questions, inferencing questions, and the likes.
Kids should ask clarifying questions to make sure that they get the idea of the subject of the discussion.
Inference questions are usually based on a passage, and they involve making logical inferences from the facts in a statement.
Also, some questions arise as a result of critical thinking. The ability of kids to distinguish between these different kinds of questions and know when it’s appropriate to ask them makes them very good questioners.
10- Ask your questions
The best learning strategy is learning by example. A naturally curious teacher births students that ask reasonable questions.
If you can make questioning your second nature, kids around you will learn from you, developing critical questioning qualities.
Questions you ask will serve as a suitable template for the kids and make it easier to ask similar questions for different topics.
11- Make yourself a credible source.
Don’t lie to your kids!
That’s the #1 rule to make your kids trust you with their numerous questions. Kids are smart and know to whom to direct their many questions.
If you always give inaccurate answers or respond to the ‘I don’t know, your kids will find out soon enough, and they’ll turn to someone else for answers.
Sometimes, it’s good to play along with their school teachers, as kids find them generally trustable. If your kids trust you with questions, your answers shouldn’t contrast who they consider trustable, even if subtle.
It’s an intuitive fact that kids that ask more questions generally gain more knowledge. Also, curious kids ask more questions and are more intelligent in the long run.
The most effective way to teach kids to ask good questions is by piquing their curiosity. Then, you should encourage creative thinking and reward excellent questions.
While there are many ways to do that, what matters most is consistency. Are you ready to continuously follow the blueprint for teaching kids to ask questions?
If you are, then you’re lucky, as that blueprint is this post. Follow all of the strategies, and you’ll have a bunch of curious kids with loads of questions in no time.
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