Importance of asking open ended questions

2 year(s) ago
Importance of asking open ended questions

"Shiv, what would you do, if you were a bird, four-year-old, son," asked my mother- four old son. She prompted, you will fly, right. He said, "no". I was not sure why he said no, I mean I always believed that I will be flying if I were a bird! I remember a hindi song which said ‘Pankh hote to ud jate re' (it means I would be flying, if I would have got wings) so why my son doesn't agree, I wondered. He continued, No it depends on. on If I were a bird like an ostrich, I won't be flying but if I were a bird like an eagle, I will be flying high in the sky. I was speechless, really it never came to my mind that I can be a bird but might not be able to fly!

This incident made me realize that the way we frame our question really makes a lot of difference in thinking of a child. If my mother-in-law would have asked question like do you think a bird can fly, he would have simply replied yes or no. It would not have let him develop high order thinking. Questions that can be answered "yes" or "no" are closed-ended questions. They don't generate discussion and they rarely give any insight.

Asking an open ended question that has no right or wrong answer gives scope to child to think freely. Good questions encourage children to think outside the box and solve problems creatively. Here are a few questions that you can try with your young one:

  1. What would you do if you could be invisible?
  1. What do you think would be most exciting about living underwater?"
  1. How would the world be different if animals could talk?
  1. What will happen if fish can walk on the road?

So next time when you ask a question, try rephrasing the way you ask it. For example, instead of asking what colour is this ask what does this colour make you think of. When I asked my son what does red colour makes him think of, he said, "bull". What was your kid's response? Share with us.


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Purnima Jha
March 18, 2015 @ 01:33 PM

Thanks Raj. I am happy that you found it relevant for kids.

Dr. Raj Kumar Jayapal (Raj the Tora)
March 09, 2015 @ 04:59 PM

Very educative, especially in the current world, where explanations are not sought. All that is sought is "Yes" and a "No" that sounds like an "Yes"! Wonderful post Purnima, especially as it comes from the dreamy-eyed mom of the nature-loving dreamy-eyed son!

Purnima Jha
Purnima has been a teacher, a curriculum designer and is currently working for appystore. She loves kids and is passionate about education. When she is not daydreaming, she manages to do her work and write blogs. She is a mother of a 6 yr old boy who is the main source of inspiration for her blogs.

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