Four steps to help your child ask and answer their own questions

Four steps to help your child ask and answer their own questions

By Rebecca Woodbury Keller

Four steps to help your child ask and answer their own questions

In a previous post, I explored, What’s in a Question? 

“How does a butterfly fly? Why is the sky blue? Where do frogs sleep at night? How can lizards climb up walls? Small children know how to ask questions – and how to frustrate their busy caregivers. And, there is value in their incessant questions of ‘why?’”


As a science education materials publisher for over 20 years – with our Real Science 4 Kids series – I’ve encountered many parents and educators who consistently ask kids to answer adults’ questions. 


Kids have a natural curiosity. When we ask questions, try and fail, and keep asking, we learn. Sometimes when kids get into formative school years, questions shift from child-led to adult-led. Our educational system’s structure promotes this – often with the obligation to “teach to a test.” 


  • Do we really learn and understand a subject if we’re only answering someone else’s questions? 

  • No. In fact, kids learn very little from spitting back answers on exams or working to answer other people’s questions.


    So how do you guide your child in asking questions without writing the questions for them? Let’s consider 4 easy steps:


    1.) Find out what interests them – and be interested along with them!

    If your child is reading about dog saliva and how dog saliva heals wounds, ask them to tell you more about it. Get them talking, and find out why they’re interested in this subject.


    2.) Ask guiding questions. Once they are talking about why they are interested in dog spit, for example, ask them things like: 

    • “What kind of questions do you have about dog spit?” 
    • “What else do you want to know about dog spit?” 
    • “How would you find out if dog spit can heal wounds?” 

    You are not asking their questions for them – you’re helping them get closer to coming up with their own questions.


    3.) Have them write or say specifically which questions they have about dog spit. Or, if they are still not asking their own questions you can help them get started by giving example questions of your own. Show them how it’s done.

    List the ways questions can be started with:

    • How?
    • Why?
    • Does?
    • When? 

    4.) Once they have a list of questions, your job is to help them figure out how they might answer those questions. And you might be asking….how?


    • Play! Play around with questions and how to find answers – get creative.
    • Suggest experiments
    • What can you find via google search?

    The more excited you are about helping them answer their own questions, the more eager they will be in answering them. 


    If you can get your child/student to ask and answer their own questions, they will be more interested in the topic, they will learn more about the topic, and they will more easily retain what they’ve learned.

    So let me ask you, do you want your child to always be answering other people’s questions, possibly bored and not fully engaged in learning about a topic...


    OR…


    Do you want to help your child ask and answer their own questions?

    If you’re ready to expand your child’s learning, I’ve developed the RATATAZ method that gets your kids to ask and answer their own questions. I’ve mapped out the best way for kids to learn science, and all the hard work of choosing where to begin has been done for you. Sequence matters, and we build it for you. Each step of the RATATAZ method is backed by science. 


    Learn more about our RATATZ kits here.