Kids love to ask questions. Why does ice melt? Why is it dark at 5pm in the winter and still bright in the summer? Why does my skin wrinkle when I stay in the bath for an hour?
As a busy parent, sometimes all these questions from your little ones can leave you feeling overwhelmed. All these “why” questions make you to feel like you’re constantly being tested and like you need to read up on every single topic imaginable to a young child, or turn on SIRI.
Good news, moms and dads. You don’t have to have all the answers to facilitate your kids’ STEM learning. Instead, try asking kids your own questions.
Instead of “why”, though, try using the question word “what”.
“What happened when you moved this part over there?”
“What did you change about what you are making?”
“What” questions require observation and a focus on the task at hand and allows you and your child to explore the answers together.
“What do you think will happen if we mix the blue and yellow paint?”
“What do you think will happen if we add one more brick to this structure?”
By asking “what” questions, you’re not only helping your child to develop problem solving and observation skills - skills that are essential to STEM learning - but you are encouraging them to communicate the answer themselves. The answers are right in front of them, they just need to find a way to explain it.
This line of questioning allows kids to flex their analytical and critical thinking skills, focus on the details and discover the answers, rather than simply having the answers fed to them.
By giving kids questions they can answer themselves, you’re also helping to foster a sense of empowerment and self-confidence, and setting the stage for future STEM exploration and learning.
Junior STEM Club takes an inquiry-based approach to learning. Through designing and re-designing, we allow kids to analyze, experience, make choices to come to a conclusion about their design and then reflect upon what they’ve done. In short, we ask a lot of “what” questions!