What is the easiest way to engage students? It isn’t by following a teacher’s manual. It isn’t through lecture, movies. or being an entertainer. The answer is in their questions.
When students ask questions, what will they listen for? The answers! They will seek the answers to their own questions, but just answering the question will not keep them engaged or aide in retention of the information. Teachers and parents need to skillfully guide them to find the answers themselves. It is the independently seeking the answer and discovering it themselves that leads to total engagement. In most cases, just offering an answer will not lead to retention of the answer. Students don’t pay close attention in the same way when they are only looking for an answer. Oncer they have it, they don’t need to store it for later use because they know where to go to get the answer the next time. When they learn how to seek answers and discover them themselves, they will retain the information or will be able to find the answer without involving parents, teachers, or the internet. How do we do tap into their ability to discover the answers to their own questions? Through questions!
My parents modeled how to teach children independently find answers. They never answered a question with a direct answer, but would often reply, “What do you think?” When they gave me this answer,I thought it was because they didn’t want to be bothered by my incessant wonderings. Once I became a teacher, I saw that what they were teaching me was how to tap into my innate ability to find answers for myself.
Children learn at a very young age whether their questions matter or not. The two or three year old asks questions about everything around them. They are trying to make sense of their world through the questions they ask. Unfortunately, many children are taught at an early age that questions are a nuisance. When parents don’t understand the nature of their three year old’s questions and get frustrated, the little one’s get the impression that people will get angry with them for asking questions. By changing the way parents respond to their children’s questions, they will help their children discover their innate ability to find all the answers they seek.
For example, a common question asked by children is, “Why is the sky blue?”
Some parents will go into an explanation that the sky is blue because it is reflecting the color of the ocean. This response will not promote deeper thinking or help parents tap into what is going on in the mind of the question asker.
Responding with a question will not only allow the asker to tap into the innate problem solving ability we all have, it will also promote excellent communication skills.
My daughter asked my father this questions, and his reply to her question was another question, “What do you think?” I would give my reasoning and he would say, “That’s very interesting, what made you think that?” I would explain it and he would follow it with, “Your reasoning is interesting. Scientists think it is because it is reflecting the color of the ocean.” He wanted to hear her thinking. This method or responding
Often parents answer questions for children that they already know the answer. I asked him, “Why do I have to do the dishes?” He replied, “Why do you think you have to do the dishes?” Of course, I knew several reasons I needed to do them, “I need