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Six Types of Brain-Building Questions You Should Be Asking Your Child

“Did you have a good day?”

“Did you have fun at the park?”

“Did you enjoy the book?”

It’s exceedingly easy to fall into the pattern of asking children these types of close-ended questions. They’ll probably get you one- or two-word answers, maybe more if you’re lucky, but more often than not, they leave a lot of opportunity for conversation and cognitive development on the table.

Unlike simple yes-or-no questions, open-ended questions can help children expand their creativity, language and cognitive skills by encouraging deeper thinking.

Adapting Bloom’s Taxonomy – a cognitive model commonly used in the field of education – to the preschool classroom, teacher educator Janis Strasser, EdD, outlines six different types of questions that “spark meaningful conversation,” enrich children’s language and strengthen their cognitive ability. These types of questions are important for parents to familiarize themselves with as they further their child’s learning and development outside of the classroom.

Keep in mind these categories are not mutually exclusive. According to Strasser, “When children are asked questions, they must use one, some, or all of the categories below to come up with an answer. The more complex the question, the richer children’s language and thinking.”

1. Remember (identify, name, count, repeat, recall), e.g.:

  • “What was the name of the book you read today?”
  • “How many main characters were in the story?”

2. Understand(describe, discuss, explain, summarize), e.g.:

  • “Which part of the story was your favorite? Why?”
  • “What did you notice about…?

3. Apply (explain why, dramatize, identify with/relate to), e.g.:

  • “What do you think that means?”
  • “Why do you think the character in the story behaved that way?”

4. Analyze (recognize change, experiment, infer, compare, contrast), e.g.:

  • “What do you think will happen next?” / “What do you think will happen if…?”
  • “What happened when you tried that?”

5. Evaluate (express opinion, judge, defend/criticize), e.g.:

  • “What made you decide to do it that way?”
  • “What would you do differently next time?”

6. Create (make, construct, design, author), e.g.:

  • “What are some ideas you have that we can try?”
  • “Tell me what you created.”

There’s no doubt questions are a powerful tool when it comes to early childhood development. Challenge yourself to ask your little one thought-provoking, brain-building questions, and enjoy the conversations that follow.

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