One of the simplest ways to support your child’s learning
Kids are always asking questions. But the best thing you can really do for your child is to not answer their questions. You need to ask the question back to them.
If a child asks: “What is a cloud made of?” Instead of answering, you should ask “What do you think a cloud is made of?”
This is what really happens when you don’t answer but ask the question back to your child:
1) It Empowers Kids to Realize They Know Things Too. Harvard researcher William G. Perry, Jr spent 15 years studying questioning. He concluded that many students practice what he calls dualist thinking: that any question has a single correct answer. Kids think that their role is to just listen for correct answers. If a child asks a question and an adult is always answering, they think that only adults know the answers. But if they ask a question and the door is opened for them to try to answer, it empowers kids to take more ownership of their learning. They begin to recognize that there is not a single correct answer. They learn how to search for the answers instead of having answers just handed to them.
2) Kids Develop More Awareness of How They Are Thinking and Approaching Problems When we empower kids to answer their own questions, they start to develop awareness of how they are thinking. Metacognition theory is the process of thinking about how you think. It allows them to use these skills to become self-directed learners and begin solving their own problems.
3) They Become More Motivated to Find Their Own Answers When we help kids answer their own questions, they are more motivated to use research and problem-solving to find the answers. This is also a chance for us to guide them through the process by sharing and modeling how what we do when we don’t know the answer to a question. You can show your process of what you might type in a search engine to figure out the answer and how you might evaluate websites to decide which website is the best choice to find information. Make sure to verbalize your thought process as you are going through the steps. This “think aloud” strategy, where you share the questions and thoughts going through your head as you are researching, lets kids see how adults also struggle and how they approach getting stuck.