Before children can gain knowledge through questioning, they need to know the right questions to ask. The “wh” words – who, what, when, where and why – are the key words the children will use when phrasing a question. Verse them on the proper word for each conversation. Give them sample sentences that need clarification through questioning: for example, “She wanted to have you call her.” Challenge the children to link the correct questioning term to the sentence. The correct answer in this example would be, “Who wanted me to call?"
Asking questions is how children accrue knowledge from the world around them. Prompting children to ask questions can be a troublesome task, though. Teaching them the proper questions to ask as well as providing a comforting work environment will help make them feel comfortable with asking questions. Providing them with a reason to be curious will help get the questions flowing as well.
According to Dr. Bruce Duncan Perry, fear is a deterrent for many children when it comes to asking questions. The fear of disapproval or mocking is enough to make an inquisitive child quiet even though he has an answer. Open up your classroom to questions and assure the students that there is no such thing as a stupid legitimate question. Don’t let others mock a student just for asking questions. Never show annoyance when someone asks a question. If you don’t have time to open your classroom to questions all the time, open a small window at the end of each lesson for questions and discussion.
Classroom jeopardy is a game in which you give the answer to a question and allow the players to guess the original question. The game can promote proper questioning skills in students. Play the game using subject material recently covered in the classroom. Before you play the game, give the children examples of proper questions to ask and the categories in the game. Providing a small reward may help the children feel motivated to win the game.
Teaching children the proper questions to ask means nothing if the child doesn’t have any motivation to ask. Continual negative feedback when asking questions will deaden the inquisitive side of a child. Spark the children’s curious side by giving only partial information until they ask. For example, you can show the children a box. Don’t open the box until you hear a child ask about the contents. Leading the children on in this way will help fuel their curiosity throughout the lesson.
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