By Michelle Long
If I asked you how many questions you ask children on any given day, I assume your response would be that is most likely too many to count. You probably ask how they are feeling, if they are hungry, what color they are wearing, if they need to use the restroom, etc.
When you stop to think about the questions that you are asking children, pause to think about the power of your questions. Are you asking simple questions that really only have one response, or are you asking big, powerful questions that help you learn more about the children? Are you asking questions that meet the child at their developmental level or maybe even challenge them just a little? Do you ask questions based on the child’s interest and wait for their response to learn what they know about the topic? Do you ask a question and immediately give the answer?
Your day is busy and often times it is easier for you to ask the simple questions with rote answers or ask a question and supply the answer. Or even ask a question but get distracted before hearing the answer. Pause to think how you would feel if you were trying to have a conversation with another adult who only asked you simple questions and did not give you any opportunity to contribute to the conversation. You have things you want to say but are not given any opportunity to say them. Would you feel that what you had to share was not valued?
So how do you work on enhancing the questions you ask the children? How do you learn to ask the big, powerful questions?
Here are some tips to get you started:
In The “Leadership and Learning” blog article “Turning Creative Sparks into an Innovative Fire” Kevin Eikenberry discusses how creative sparks of ideas or conversations often fizzle and die. He talks about ideas being fragile, and how they require nurturing and care to develop and begin the changing process of turning that spark into a flame.
You can use the information in the article to learn how to allow time for ideas to form, offer topics that are meaningful to the children, allow time for children to develop responses, and ensure that the child is ready to have a conversation.
In the NAEYC Higher Order Thinking (HOT) Creativity learning module based on the NAEYC Book Big Questions for Young Minds: Extending Children’s Thinking (2017 Bresson, Strasser), Blooms taxonomy was suggested as a tool that teachers can use to generate higher order thinking questions. Using Blooms Taxonomy can help you formulate your questions into classified segments of information and knowledge. It can help you meet the children where they are in their development and understanding on a subject matter and carry them into higher order thinking skills. The lower levels of the taxonomy help you to learn where the children are in their prior knowledge of the subject, while the higher levels support the teacher in formulating thoughtful questions that scaffold and extend the learning, as well as encourage critical thinking skills.
It will take time, practice, and reflection to enhance your daily questions, but it will make a world of difference for both you and the children.