One of the earliest memories I have of my son saying he liked school was after we took a nature walk together. I had my phone, a sunny but not hot day, and a curious lad. He was perhaps 8 or 9. Still at an age where he was chock full of questions. We meandered quietly through the forest, listening to birds, watching ducks, and then we spotted it. A small stream emanating from spring. In that stream were water striders, “MOM! Look! “What are those? How come they don’t sink? What do they eat?” The questions came fast and furious as my lad hunkered down next to the stream. My afternoon become one of answering questions and watching a boy’s delight. We learned their lifecycle, eating habits, about water tension, and more. Anything I didn’t know, my handy phone was able to provide.
This was just one of many steps on the path to independence. Helping to instill a love of learning by answering questions from a fascinated child. Showing him the wonders of a world, the wonders of knowledge in helping him to understand the world around him.
What Types of Questions are there?
Questions need to be answered, don’t they? They come from all over the place. Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How. Questions always fall into one of 8 categories though.
- Closed (yes/no)
- Open (the answer is open-ended, could go anywhere)
- Probing (asking for clarification).
- Leading (questions that lead to a certain answer)
- Loaded (leading to revealing information you’d rather not)
- Funnel (a big question that eventually leads to specific questions)
- Recall and process (information questions, like on a test)
- Rhetorical (don’t really need an answer).
Many of the questions I hear every day, such as “Mom? Are you cooking supper tonight?” are simple yes/no questions, or questions with a definable answer (How do you spell Mississippi). Very easy to answer aren’t they?
Using questions to encourage thinking
Going back to the water striders, imagine for a moment that I only answered the closed, process or open questions. Would that have drawn my son into asking more questions?
One thing my son hadn’t considered was “what happens to water striders in the winter?” It was springtime, water striders were everywhere. Why was that? Did you know that water striders hibernate? I know …. fascinating isn’t it? Why do you suppose that is? That whole conversation got my lad off and running. He’d never considered that an insect could be like a bear in any way. Mouth-dropping astonishment! 🙂
Our answers to questions can simply be answers, or we can let our answers lead to additional discoveries. So as answer questions, let us always consider the bigger question. How can I help my student look deeper?
Our questioning learning helps theirs
We can also make discoveries of our own.
“Lad, did you know that in WW2 there was a society called the White Rose Society? They were a resistance group of young people that operated out of Munich.” My son, since he is currently studying WW2, immediately attuned his ears. Learning about the White Rose society he then learned about the Polish Home Army (and has since written a short paper on them). Our learning can spur on their own.
Resources to Help You
If going out in nature you might find these hello Nature cards helpful.
SchoolhouseTeachers.com has more than 400 courses, enough to help your children ask questions. Help them ask questions, and to get the answers.