Listen, Ask a Question and Listen Again
There are times in our work as educators, that call for us to slow down, take a breath and be in the moment with a child. When we do this, a child feels valued and heard. They learn to ask their own questions and explore what makes their hearts sing. Spending time together in Nature Explore Classrooms supports teachers and children to pause, explore, and have rich and varied conversations.
How we pose questions directly impacts the conversations that emerge. Here are a few questions we find especially compelling. Perhaps you might like to try them too.
What do you notice?
This question guides children to begin sharing their own observations – without a right or wrong response. Giving children both time and attention, as they respond, tells them you value what they can see and how they describe it, and often activates or encourages further exploration. As you follow their lead with presence and interest, a cycle of growth begins, with increasing focus followed by more detailed observations, so this simple question might guide an entire investigation outdoors.
What do you like?
This question inspires children to reflect on and share their own ideas and feelings, and to make statements of interpretation and personal preference. Acknowledging different preferences also provide an opportunity to talk with children about opinions versus facts and ways to formulate and value their own preferences while respectfully hearing others’ opinions and preferences.
What do you wonder?
Children are often asked what they know, but to really open a window on a child’s mind, try asking what they wonder. You may be surprised, delighted, awed or occasionally concerned at what you learn. Children’s wonderings can be the launch pad for a wide range of learning pathways and investigations – scientific, mathematical, historical, practical or even fictional. Asking a child what they wonder may be the most important question because it allows for the process of thinking about more than the one right answer. The word ‘wonder’ encourages children to do their own thinking. It implies contemplation, curiosity, dreaming about possibilities. Not only is it important to teach children that we value their answers, but above all, we must show them that we value their questions.
Are thoughtful questions your super power? Give these questions a try, and share with us what you learn!