Be a grandparent questionologist
BY KERRY BYRNE, PH.D.
I spent my high school years with my hand up asking questions. So much so that one science teacher Mr. M asked if “that was a problem peculiar to myself.” I was very embarrassed!
A few years ago, a grandparent in my family shared this story with me and it always stuck with me.
I was also that kid, with my hand always raised up in class because my mom told me that if I had a question, it was very likely someone else had the same question.
Before my kids go to school, I always say, “Remember to ask questions.” Ask all the questions you have swirling around in your mind. This is how you learn.
My almost 8-year-old now rolls his eyes and says, “I knooooww mum!” I consider this a victory each and every time!
As a mother to two little ones, according to researchers, I’m being asked hundreds of questions a day. I bet you remember the days of endless why questions.
And for those of you with younger grandchildren, you might be re-experiencing the why question loop kids seem to love so much!
But despite the benefits of question-asking for kids, researchers point out that when kids start school, their question-asking decreases.
Continuing to ask questions, is an important life skill that will serve them well one day in the classroom, workplace, and in their family life.
So how can you encourage question-asking in your grandchildren?
Well, first make it fun to answer and ask questions. I call this “gamifying conversation”. Open-ended questions are great but asking True/False questions or multiple-choice questions works really well on video chats when it’s tough to get undivided attention. Check out this article for ideas about how to gamify your conversation with your grandchildren. How to make conversations with your grandchildren more fun from a distance. Second, interview one another.
You can make a project out of this by declaring you would like to lead a family interview project. This can be done in person or virtually. Put names in a hat and the name you draw is the person you interview. Kind of like a Secret Santa approach for family interview sessions. Be sure to generate a list of questions for younger children to choose from but also encourage them to come up with their own questions.
Third, buy them books that encourage question-asking. I found a wonderful list of books curated by a librarian with options for picture books all the way to middle school. It’s called A Children’s Library of Question Books.
Editor’s note: Here are a couple more books for your consideration
For your older grandchildren, cut out or print out a news article about something they are interested in and write a few questions you’d like their perspective on in the margins.
Being a “Grand Questionologist” can take many forms but one of the best ways is to lead by example. Try Googling good questions to ask a 10-year-old and you will be inundated with options.
The beauty of question-asking is that it can be done in person or virtually.
I guess one last thing to consider is, don’t force it. Sometimes kids just aren’t in the mood to answer or ask questions. If the conversation has stalled, I like this suggestion: Just say ‘I like listening to you. Can we talk more another time?’
Happy Connecting (and questioning!)