Chil­dren’s ques­tions

Use your child’s in­quis­i­tive mind as a spring­board to help him learn more about the world.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - PARENTING -

LAST week, be­fore class started, I met a young preschooler stand­ing at the door of his class­room. He asked me what I was do­ing in his school. I told him I was there to train the teach­ers.

“Why do teach­ers need to be teached?” quipped the ar­tic­u­late five-year-old.

I re­sponded: “You want to know why your teach­ers need to be taught? Your teach­ers need to learn more to do a bet­ter job in teach­ing the chil­dren in the class.”

He was sat­is­fied with this re­sponse and then pro­ceeded to help his teach­ers to ar­range the fur­ni­ture.

Chil­dren will ask com­pelling and in­ter­est­ing ques­tions when they are in en­vi­ron­ments that sup­port their learn­ing. The adults in their lives of­fer them pos­i­tive mod­els to ob­serve and in­ter­act with. Chil­dren ask more ques­tions if they feel com­fort­able do­ing so.

They also need ma­te­ri­als that will cre­ate mean­ing­ful learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ences that lead to in­ter­est­ing ques­tions. Chil­dren like to use the ma­te­ri­als that they see the adults around them work­ing on.

The adults can equip them­selves through re­sources like books and the In­ter­net. They can also help the chil­dren eval­u­ate their ques­tions. To ar­rive at cer­tain an­swers, ex­per­i­ments may be use­ful. The adult and the child can have great fun to­gether dis­cov­er­ing the phys­i­cal world.

In other words, by ob­serv­ing and in­ter­act­ing with adults and ob­jects in con­text-rich, mean­ing­ful en­vi­ron­ments, chil­dren learn not only to process in­for­ma­tion at a deeper level and de­velop think­ing skills but also to come up with their own ques­tions.

Most par­ents talk to their chil­dren and ask them ques­tions. But, their ques­tions tend to be like: “What are you do­ing with your brother’s pen­cil box?” or “What is this colour?” or “How many ap­ples do you have?”

Adults tend to ask few, sim­ple and re­dun­dant ques­tions. They do it at ran­dom. Most times, they do not fol­low up with the topics they start with their chil­dren. They switch topics quickly as they try to teach their chil­dren some­thing. Chil­dren may re­gard such in­ter­ac­tions with neg­a­tive feel­ings.

Adults are in the habit of ask­ing ques­tions that have ob­vi­ous an­swers. Their rea­son for do­ing so is to im­part knowl­edge about the world. One ques­tion com­monly heard is: “What is this?”

Chil­dren en­joy us­ing new words in their con­ver­sa­tions.

One preschooler was read­ing Jack And The Beanstalk with his mother at bed­time. He stopped at the word “fright­ened”. He asked the mean­ing of the word.

His mother asked him: “How did Jack feel when he first saw the gi­ant?”

Her son replied: “Jack was afraid when he saw the gi­ant.”

His mother then told him that the word “fright­ened” means the same as “afraid”.

Chil­dren like to im­i­tate their par­ents. One mother was hav­ing dif­fi­culty as­sem­bling a gad­get she had pur­chased from a shop. She said aloud: “I won­der what I can do to fig­ure out the prob­lem.” Her five-year-old son was play­ing next to her.

On a sep­a­rate oc­ca­sion, this mother over­heard her son us­ing the ex­act words when he was try­ing to put to­gether a con­struc­tion toy.

Chil­dren be­come bet­ter at prob­lem-solv­ing when they can ask their own ques­tions. One four-year-old boy paused while he was hav­ing his tea. He asked the care­giver: “Why is there night and day? Why does the sun come out in the day and the moon come out at night?”

To tackle these ques­tions from a cu­ri­ous child, the care­giver an­swered: “Sounds like you are in­ter­ested in know­ing more about night and day. Let’s find the an­swers from some books.”

It is vi­tal to help chil­dren feel that their ques­tions are im­por­tant. They also need to know that they are ac­cepted and can seek help from their par­ents when work­ing out dif­fi­cul­ties.

Chil­dren will ven­ture to ask more ques­tions when they are not wor­ried about mak­ing mis­takes and get­ting pun­ished. They want to ex­plore the world. Their ques­tions will stim­u­late greater in­ter­est.

Chil­dren as young as four some­times ask per­cep­tive ques­tions, such as: “How are the but­ter­fly and the moth dif­fer­ent?” “What would hap­pen if we didn’t have mos­qui­toes?” “How does the lion feel be­ing trapped in the cage?” and “Why do we have blood in our bod­ies?”

The next time you spot an ant trail some­where in your house, in­vite your child to fol­low it by say­ing: “Where are the ants go­ing? I won­der what they are do­ing.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.