Children’s questions: Promoting cognitive development
A young mind that questions is blessed with curiosity that runs wild. Children’s minds explore and grow from the time they are born. They are always eager to ask questions. It is imperative to foster curiosity in them and encourage them to ask questions as they endeavor to explore the world around them and gather information. Asking questions also aids cognitive development in them as they think, try to figure things out and learn.
Experts believe that the average number of questions asked by a preschooler in a day ranges from 70 to 300, based on the age and gender of the child. Without a doubt, we all can agree that preschoolers have a lot of questions and rightly so, as that is the prime age for brain development. How can we ensure that we cultivate this skill of questioning optimally? As educators and parents, we have to adopt the perspective of young children and remain conscious of what they don’t know.
Encouraging children to ask questions
Some children may naturally ask many questions and some may not. The act of questioning lays the foundation for scientific temperament. Therefore, we must ensure that every child asks questions. Whether it is a loving parent, a caring educator or a caregiver, everyone can encourage a child to ask questions by following a few basic guidelines.
- Create a comfortable environment for the child: When a child enthusiastically comes up with a question, our reaction plays a very important role in determining the future course of action. If we get irritated, annoyed, embarrassed, or laugh at the question, the child will be discouraged from asking questions. We need to maintain our calm and composure to walk them through the answer to their question. This will ensure the child doesn’t stop asking questions when exposed to many environments including home, school, spiritual centres, events, and situations they do not comprehend.
- Give them time to ask questions: In the modern-day scenario, we are always in a rush to do things. It’s the same with both parents and educators. Nonetheless, we need to find ways to spend quality time with children to prod them into asking questions. In an early childhood classroom setting, we need to make asking questions a routine, just like circle time. We need to appreciate every question, however silly, interesting or weird it may sound. The facilitator, along with the children, can have an open discussion to encourage group participation. The key point here is the thought process and not the answer.
- Ask questions to improve learning among children: Children absorb information like sponges. A caring adult is the best role model a child could get. Make it a practice to ask questions about new pieces of information and let the child learn how to ask questions. Focus on asking open-ended questions so that children have an opportunity to express themselves as well.
- Observe and analyse the questions: Questions asked by children open a door of opportunities to peek into their thought processes and their understanding of the world. That’s a lot of information we could put to good use in understanding how to support them in their development. Take some time to reflect on the questions asked and use this information to plan their future conversations.
- Read books together and value your child’s queries: Read books to your child. This will help them develop an understanding of the world and provide answers to many of their day-to-day queries. Make learning an interactive experience by posing questions to children rather than just relaying facts which in turn, will enhance their critical-thinking skills.
A child’s courage to ask questions and our readiness to answer them matter a great deal in shaping their future. As an educator or parent, we should adopt numerous methods to nurture curious minds, and inculcate in them the habit of asking questions. By doing so, we can help children expand their view of the world and gather knowledge.