What are open ended questions and why do they matter?
An open ended question is any question asked in such a way that will not lead to a simple yes or no response. Open ended questions typically start with, “Who”, “What”, “Why”, “How” or “Tell me…”. Asking your children open ended questions as they play lets them know that their voice matters, helps builds self esteem, encourages creativity, promotes problem solving, strengthens communication skills and serves as an opportunity to bond with your child.
Self Esteem- Using open ended questions to engage with your children reminds them that they have a platform for their individual ideas and thoughts to be heard. When responding to an open ended question, your kids will be challenged to give more information than a simple, yes or no answer and will be encouraged to articulate their thought process out loud.
Creativity- Asking questions like, “Tell me about what you are going to make...”, or “How will you be using these toys?”, allows your children to get creative and think of ideas as they respond. Asking an open ended question as your child begins to play engages them in an informal brainstorming exercise that gets them excited about what they will be doing.
Problem Solving- Using questions like, “What do you think would happen if….?” or “What do you think about…?”, allows you to guide your children through any obstacles they might encounter as they play. This teaches them to think for themselves and come up with solutions that create the outcome they desire- whatever that might be.
Communication- When your children respond to open ended questions it is necessary for them to provide more information and select verbiage that will deliver their message effectively. Answering open ended questions gives your children a chance to practice articulating their thoughts, ideas and message in an environment that makes them feel safe to do so.
When should I be asking my children open ended questions?
Whenever you can! Your kids probably love giving you an unsolicited “piece of their mind”, so you might as well get in the driver’s seat! But seriously, play provides a wonderful opportunity to begin asking open ended questions and affords you the opportunity to bond with your children in their world.