The Advantages of Asking Quality Questions

The right question at the right time can move children to peaks in their thinking that result in significant steps forward and real intellectual excitement…and children can raise the right question for themselves if the setting is right.
—Eleanor Duckworth

Our thinking habits determine our destiny. Skillfully asking quality questions that build attention and provoke thinking can be the springboard for children to develop the habit of independent decision-making and self-reliant action. When we ask children thought-provoking questions, we give them the opportunity to practice these skills.

You can instantly change mental focus with a question because the instant a question is asked one’s mind begins working to answer it; so indeed you want to ask quality questions. Just a couple of the advantages are noted and illustrated below:

Quality questions allow you to team with rather than do for children.
Instead of jumping in and doing everything for a child whenever she cries for help or is unable to complete a task on your timeline, you can begin to set the stage for self-reliance. For example, you could ask:

Is this something you want to handle by yourself or would you like some help?

When the child answers I would like some help, ask another question:

What kind of help would you like from me?

Quality questions help steer away from a power struggle and arguing about the details of a situation.

Have you ever overheard or had a conversation like this?

Parent: Why did you hit your brother again?

Child: I didn’t.

Parent: Yes, you did. I saw you.

Child: Well, he hit me first.

Parent: You stop hitting your brother or you know what will happen to you.

Child: Uh-huh

How much further might the parent get by asking this question: How much longer do you plan to practice hitting your brother? Such an approach avoids the circular argument, ultimately saves time, and takes pressure off the parent. In this approach, once again, remember that the child is expected to do more of his own thinking, talking, listening, remembering, and deciding.