Asking the right questions can enhance child development

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Asking your kid the right questions can dramatically enhance childhood development. Child expert, Claire Vallotton with Michigan State University says, the science of early childhood development shows asking questions supports growth in a variety of ways, including social and emotional skills, getting to know themselves, cognitive functions, and language.

“Asking questions is one of the best ways to support language,” says Vallotton. “What we know about supporting language is you need a back and forth. It’s not just about what kids hear, but it’s also about how they engage you in conversation and asking kids a question gets them to talk or communicate in the ways that they have.”

The next step is learning how to ask questions, and they will differ depending on the age of your child. For little ones that are still non-verbal or know just a few words, the questions start simply with yes-no options that gradually expand.

“Do you want this strawberry for snack today? They will respond by turning away or taking the strawberry, simple yes-no,” says Vallotton. “Then you go to two options, would you like strawberries or oranges today?”

The older kids get the better parents need to be at asking questions. A few ways to help include asking open-ended questions that reduce the one-word answers. For example, start your question with words like explain, tell me about, or describe. Based on how your children respond will determine how you better ask a question for next time — helping future conversations with your child to blossom.

“You scale it up with their development,” says Vallotton. “Eventually you’ll be asking broad open ended questions like, what do you imagine? What are you going to do today? Just those bigger things so they can imagine into the future with their answer or think about the past with their answer, and that develops cognitive skills.”

Some parenting experts say when you encourage active learning by simply asking questions, it will help your kids become better communicators, plus, provide parents a closer relationship with the ones they love.

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