“How was school dear?”, a question asked by millions of parents to millions on children worldwide, a question that transcends all cultures and national identities. It is a question that is often the first, and also tragically, the only question many parents ask of their child’s school day.
At this point I am sure some of you reading this maybe thinking “oh great, another article knocking parents”, but actually I am on your side on this! On a daily basis parents and teachers encourage children to ask questions, and as an educator I have been trained to ask the right questions to encourage learning, but what of parents?
Parents are an essential part of a child’s education, and schools like parents to be more involved in the learning process, but how much information and support are given to parents to assist them in helping their children reach their fullest potential?
Well, starting today I am going to give you some help and insight into asking the right questions to boost your child’s learning when they are at home. This article will be the first in a series which will guide you in asking the right questions, don’t worry, it won’t get too technical and I’ll avoid the jargon as much as possible!
So today we will start with what I call “general inquiry questions”, these are questions that you can ask which will give you a clearer picture of what your child is learning at school, and will also help you gauge if they understand what they need to do, and what is required of them. OK, let’s get to it…
“Asking Good Questions is Half of Learning” Elijah Muhammad
No doubt you are very keen to help your child with their study and would like to know more about the task they’ve set and what it is they are meant to be learning. The following questions are simple examples that can help you assess if they know and understand what they are doing, and will help you get a better picture of their learning experience.
Some simple (but effective) questions you can use to get you started are;
- What information / resources do you need to do this task?
- Where are you going to look for the information?
- Where do you think you should begin? Why here?
- What do you need to do next?
- Can you describe how you’re going to complete this task?
- How did you solve this problem / complete this task?
- What did you try that didn’t work? Why didn’t it work?
- Why does this answer seem right to you? Do you know any alternative answers?
- Tell me more about this part?
If your child is unable to answer any of questions 1- 4 then you should contact the teacher / school for further clarification or assistance, questions 5 – 9 are to help you check your child’s understanding and will help to ensure that they are thinking deeply about what they are doing, which will help develop better understanding of the topic.
What do you notice about these questions? Answer: your child has to explain in some detail, there is no room for yes / no responses. All of the above questions, and the ones I will share in subsequent posts encourage your child to think deeper about what they are doing and learning.
Extra tip! In addition to asking your child to explain any learning points, you can even ask them to teach you what they have learned, the ability to explain clearly and concisely is a clear indicator of understanding and “learning through teaching” can be a very effective way to consolidate knowledge.
As Albert Einstein famously said: “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”
Parents are and always will be, essential to the learning process of their children, and equipping parents with the right tools to help them can only improve education further and give parents a greater stake in their children’s future, this counts for all parents and not just those that homeschool.
In the next post we will look into other types of questions, ones that help probe their understanding and foster deeper learning. In the meantime, I would love to hear your ideas and feedback on today’s article, and by all means share your ideas for new article topics on the things that matter to you regarding your child’s education.
See you next time!