As adults, we take it for granted that we understand the language that we hear spoken all around us. It’s easy to forget that little children don’t always have that ability. It’s especially easy to forget that your child might not understand everything when they’ve grown so much in their language ability since they were an infant. It feels like they DO understand everything you’re saying. However, any kindergarten teacher will tell you that many children simply don’t understand the questions that they’re asked. The better your child can understand questions—and ask their own—the better they will tend to do in school. So what can you do to help them to develop this ability? Here are a few tips from our day care in Huntington.
1. Ask rote questions
Give your child practice answering rote questions until the answers are automatic and easy for them. Ask easy questions and keep it fun. Celebrate with a warm smile and applause when they answer. Tell them the answer as many times as needed until they remember it. Build up the number of questions that your child knows the answer to. You would be amazed at how this skill will help to reduce test taking anxiety in their older years. Sample questions to ask:
- What’s your name?
- What’s your last name?
- What’s your address?
- What’s my name?
- What color is that? (pointing to an item)
- What letter is that?
- What number is that?
2. Ask “which one” questions
Asking “which one” taps into your kindergartner’s critical thinking skills and causes them to evaluate between one or more options. Give them lots of practice with these types of questions, and cheer when they get the right answer. Make sure you do this in short time doses to accommodate your kindergartner’s attention span, and stop before you see signs of boredom or frustration. Sample questions to ask:
- Which line is longer?
- Which one is blue?
- Which bowl has more marbles in it?
- Which one is your favorite?
3. Ask “how many” questions
Asking “how many” is a great way to build your kindergartner’s counting skills, and this will build a solid math foundation for them. Be patient and let them count slowly, touching each item in turn with a finger and pacing your counting so that you say one number every 1-2 seconds. Again, reward them for their effort. If your child doesn’t seem very motivated by verbal praise, try small food rewards, like cheerios or fruit gummies. Sample questions to ask:
- How many people are in our family?
- How many wheels does a car have?
- How many eyes do you have?
- How many stuffed animals are on your bed?
- How many eggs are in the carton?
4. Ask open-ended questions
Open-ended questions are not only a great way to develop your child’s language and thinking skills, they are also a fabulous way for you to get to know your child. Don’t be afraid to introduce wacky or silly topics that will get both of you laughing together. Sample questions to ask:
- If you were a fairy, what would you do?
- What do you think hair is made of?
- What do you think that bulldozer is doing?
- If we came to the very end of this road, what do you think we would find?
- If you could invent a new recipe, what would you make?
Asking questions with your kindergartner is a great way to help them to develop mentally, socially, and academically, so try some of these questions with your child!