Photo provided by osmar01.
Generally, asking children questions is a great way to find out what they know. “What color is that?” “What does the seed need to grow?” This type of questioning is a fine way to help us know what children are learning. However, asking questions can be a tool to teach as well. We can use our questions to guide children to think more deeply, to hypothesize, and to analyze. Here are a few examples of question starters:
- What do you think would happen if….(you pulled that block out?)
- Why do you think….(the water climbs up the filter?)
- Why did you ….(use the square shape next?)
- What else could we use….(to measure the sugar?)
- Tell me about….(your picture. OK, that one’s not actually a question!)
- How could we find out if your guess is right?
- What does that remind you of?
As we use these types of questions, we steer our children towards utilizing the scientific process before they “know” what it is, while also increasing their critical thinking and divergent thinking skills. Even when their answers are not the “right” answers we find in the books, thinking through and talking through concepts sets the learning process in motion and increases their understanding in an effective and personally meaningful way. In the end, they learn by giving us their answers!