Lockdown Day 36 – Asking ‘I Wonder’ Questions
Knowledge and Understanding of the World
The ability to readily absorb new information and respond to complex problems in everyday living depends on the development of critical thinking skills. We can teach children the basics of language, numeracy, and the facts of all subjects through an academic curriculum. The development of critical thinking skills however lies with the child’s exposure to the opportunities to grapple with questions that do not necessarily only have one answer.
One way of developing this skill is to work with something that the children already do very well – asking questions!
Anyone with a three-year old will know only too well the continuous, incessant stream of ‘why’ questions that come out of the child’s mouth!
Consider that the child needs to ask these questions, and have them answered appropriately in order to understand how s/he fits into this world.
The answers to these questions will obviously need to be adjusted to the child’s age and stage of development. It is however not enough to just give an answer. If we want to develop the child’s critical thinking skills, we need to also counter their questions with questions of our own to widen their (and our) thinking horizons.
Here are some suggestions:
ASK ‘I WONDER’ QUESTIONS
General knowledge skills seem to be on the decrease lately, and it is sad to see how little interest people have in their surroundings. Prompt the child’s awareness of the environment by asking lots of ‘I wonder’ questions.
- I wonder HOW the trees manage to stay upright in the wind?
- I wonder WHERE the squirrels sleep at night?
- I wonder IF ants would know how to get ‘home’ if we moved them to a different place?
- I wonder WHAT beetles eat?
- I wonder WHEN we will be able to go back to school?
- I wonder WHICH type of bird is the smallest?
- I wonder WHY mosquitoes mainly irritate us at night?
DO SOME RESEARCH TOGETHER
There are some questions that can be easily answered by doing a quick web search together. This is where the use of technology can come in handy. It shows the child that knowledge can be accessed on these devices, and gives a good starting platform for the development of further questioning.
EXPAND YOUR THINKING
It is not enough to just give a stock standard answer. Let’s take the question of why mosquitoes mainly irritate us at night. This can be expanded as follows:
- What is a mosquito?
- Why do we have mosquitoes? Are they beneficial to the Earth? How?
- What is the collective name for mosquitoes?
- What is the difference between male and female mosquitoes?
- How long do they live?
- Why do they need our blood?
- Do both male and female mosquitoes collect blood?
- Why and how do mosquitoes make that buzzing sound?
- What do they do with the blood collected?
Critical thinking isn’t just for the children! We are all lifelong learners, and will be better citizens of the planet if we ask ourselves these types of questions in order to test our own assumptions about what we know.
Enjoy your days of learning!