Open ended questions are a fantastic way to engage children in conversation. Here are some tips on phrasing questions to spark your child’s curiosity!
When formulating open ended questions, it’s best to keep this guideline in mind: if the question can be answered by a simple “yes” or “no” response, think about rephrasing it. Here’s a good example of closed versus open ended questions:
Example A: “Did you have a good day at school today?”
Example B: “What did you learn at school today?
Example A is a common question children get asked after school, but it’s too easy to respond with a one-word answer: “Yeah.” With Example B, the child now has to explain what they did during the school day in some detail. A great rule of thumb is to stick with questions that begin with the following words, sometimes referred to as the Five Ws (and One H):
- Who is the story about?
- What happened during the day?
- Where did you go during lunch?
- Why did you go to the library?
- When did you see your friend?
- How did you accomplish that?
If you start your question with one of these words, it’s generally pretty difficult to answer with a “yes” or “no” response. Stick with the Five Ws and One H to make sure your questions are open ended!
Now that we’ve reviewed open ended questions, here are some tips on how to incorporate them into curiosity-building exercises with your kids.
While watching TV or movies. Next time you are watching a program together, try asking your child engaging questions about what you are viewing. Here’s some good examples:
- Who are your favorite characters so far?
- How do you think they did those special effects?
- What was the most interesting part?
- Why do you think [character] did that?
While planning family activities. We often discuss the benefits of family time on our blog, and child-directed activities are the perfect place to start. Whether it’s going to a science museum or baking in the kitchen together, you can ask your child open ended questions to engage their curiosity:
- What would you like to discover this weekend?
- What have you always wanted to know?
- How should we spend our time outdoors?
- Who would you like to learn more about?
Questions like these will encourage your child to take the lead, which is good for building confidence and organization skills. To learn more about promoting leadership qualities in your kids, check out our blog on the topic here.
In summary, try to ask open ended questions that relate to your child’s daily lives and personal interests. The Five Ws and One H (who, what, where, why, when, how) will help to start conversation, and consistently phrasing questions this way will encourage your child to formulate meaningful, thought-out responses.