So I took her down to the parking area, explained the topography of our bathrooms and showed her how and where the pipelines travel and connect, but at the end she still wanted to know “Where the hell is all that now, show me!” That’s how my children are re-writing my disposition!
From 1st to 30th April, I will be writing one post a day on The Things that really matter to Children. Scroll to the bottom of this post to see the complete list of posts in the series.
Q for Questions: Children build their first world from our Answers!
Questions children ask are their earliest form of education. It is different from what and how they’ll learn in school later. They choose their syllabus and they need no examinations to prove if they’ve understood what they learn in their school of thoughts. The freedom to explore by asking questions and learning from our answers greatly matters to children!
The boy started it all at around three when he began to speak coherently. You might want to check the 20 brilliant questions my 3-year old asked me. I could guess then how many questions he must have had in store before he was able to talk. Except for the time he sleeps, all other time of the day was like a rapid fire round, for me. The number of questions peaked around four years and then gradually started to fall down after five though his questions seemed more thoughtful as he was nearing six. Here’s a list of hundred thoughtful questions from my four-year old.
According to a study, 4-year olds ask on an average 288 questions in a day, which is more than 1 lakh in a year. In the first two years, though the numbers are high, answering the questions is easier because most will be either within our knowledge area or just a Google search away. But with age, the complexity of the subject increases and it sometimes becomes difficult to give them an answer.
Some of the most difficult areas with us have been around death, God, rich and poor, good and bad and a lot about the origin of a baby when I was pregnant with the second baby. ‘How did the baby come into your tummy?’ must be one burning question of many older siblings. I try to avoid too much of fiction and mythology in my answers though there are times like this when I have to yarn stories. Anyways children of this era will not take too long to figure out the answer 😆
Here are some posts on this blog on our Q&A time:
From my experiences of answering children’s question, here are a few pointers I’ve learnt over the years:
- It could be extremely energy-draining to answer children’s questions, especially to moms who are alone with kids at home full-time. The fact that our regular activities will be constantly interrupted by their questionnaire and that we need to pay constant attention to answer them could be annoying. I’ve been there and almost ready for the second round now. To moms who are presently in this phase, let me tell you, it’s not going to last too long. It does demand quite a lot of patience and involvement to listen to their questions and answer. But remember, your answers are where your child is going to build his or her first world from. And their questions are the doorway to peep into their thought process. If their first questions of exploration are not attended to, their interest and ability to question may get suppressed. It’s a phase of their childhood where their curiosities need to be prioritized above everything else of our’s.
- When questions children ask are of a difficult subject like death and you are busy with something important, it is good to explain to them that you’ll speak to them about it later. Most importantly, when your work is done, attend to their question immediately so that they feel that their questions are valued.
- When you don’t know an answer, it is alright to let them know that you don’t know. When time permits, look for the answers along with your child and trust me this process of group research is interesting and exciting to children. In the last six months, most of the boy’s questions have ended up this way, for I hardly am knowledgeable to answer his questions these days.
- Use sticky notes or a journal to note down the questions which you promised them to answer later. This may sound idealistic but try it, you’ll know how beneficial it is. I’ve missed to answer or note many of the boy’s questions 🙁
- Don’t give away answers to all their questions. If there is an opportunity to help them get to the answers by their own, use it. It’ll give them the best kind of learning. Asking questions back on their questions helps here.
- If they are not old enough to understand certain concepts, keep talking around the basics of the concept instead of trying to give an answer which they will not be able to comprehend. The boy is curious to know why we are not spinning while earth is spinning. I’ve been asking him to observe fan’s rotation for he doesn’t have the understanding of forces and motions yet. If you can think of an answer to this question for a child, please write in the comments.
- Theoretical explanations can be sometimes uninteresting to children. Wherever possible, use demos, simple experiments, books, videos or your experiences.
3-5 years is when their curiosities of the unfamiliar will be on a rise, after which familiarity will slowly begin to kill curiosity. Be there for your child at this stage, for it’s from you they build their first world.
List of posts in the Series
Questions: Children build their first world from our Answers!