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1.2: Strategies for Asking Questions

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    COURSE COMPETENCY 1. Explain the basic concepts of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)

    Criteria 1.2 Use a variety of questioning methods.

    Teacher asking questions to preschool students

    Questioning Methods for Early Childhood

    Early childhood teachers can help young children learn STEM concepts by being intentional in the types of questions they ask. This means teachers purposefully plan the types of questions they will ask.

    Using a variety of questioning methods in early childhood STEM education is crucial for several reasons:

    1. Cognitive Development: Different types of questions (open-ended, closed-ended, probing, reflective) stimulate various cognitive processes such as critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity. This variety supports holistic cognitive development in young children.
    2. Engagement: Varied questioning keeps children engaged and interested in the learning process. It encourages active participation and exploration, leading to deeper understanding and retention of STEM concepts.
    3. Different Learning Styles: Children have different learning styles and preferences. Some may excel with open-ended questions that encourage exploration and experimentation, while others may benefit from structured, closed-ended questions to grasp foundational concepts. Using a mix caters to these diverse learning needs.
    4. Communication Skills: Different questioning methods help children develop communication skills. Open-ended questions promote verbal expression and articulation of thoughts, while closed-ended questions can reinforce vocabulary and comprehension.
    5. Problem-Solving Skills: By encountering various types of questions, children learn to approach problems from different angles, develop analytical skills, and become more adept at finding solutions independently or collaboratively.

    Incorporating a range of questioning methods ensures that children receive a well-rounded STEM education that fosters critical thinking, engagement, communication, and problem-solving skills essential for their future academic and professional success.

    (OpenAI. (2024). ChatGPT (3.5) [Large language model].

    Below you will see different questioning strategies to use with children. The strategies are adapted from the Head Start Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center presentation Asking Questions, Birth to 5

    Questioning Strategies for Young Infants

    Ask, wait, watch, and wonder?

    • Ask a question. Use your body, language tone and facial expressions to animate the question.
    • Slow down your speech so that the infant can follow you.
    • Wait for a response. Watch for facial expressions, gestures, and body language. Listen for vocalizations such as coos, squeals, and babbling.
    • What is the infant trying to tell you? Respond back using similar vocalizations and facial expressions.
    • Repeat!

    Ask children about what they see, do, and feel.

    • You’re reaching for the ball. What are you going to do with it?
    • Where are you crawling to?
    • How can you make the rubber ducky squeak?
    • Which book shall we read today?
    • Let’s look out the window. What do you see?

    Ask questions that help children connect to their own lives.

    • Let’s look at this family photo albums together. Who is holding you?
    • Where is your belly?
    • Are you letting me know you want me to pick you up?
    • Which bib would you like be to put on you—the smooth one or the soft one?

    Questioning Strategies for Older Infants and Toddlers

    Ask children about what they see, do, and feel.

    • Where are you going to play next?
    • What do you see on this page?

    Ask questions that help children connect with their own lives.

    • Let’s look at this family photo album together. Who do you see in these photos?
    • Where should we hang your picture?
    • You’re rubbing your eyes. How do you feel?

    Ask children to make predictions.

    • What do you think will happen if you put one more block on top of the tower?
    • What will the caterpillar eat next? (The Very Hungry Caterpillar?)

    Ask children to explain something or solve a problem.

    • What can we use the box for?
    • Why do you think the block tower fell down?
    • How can we bring all of these balls outside?

    Questioning Strategies for Preschoolers

    Ask children what they are doing.

    • What are you working on?
    • You are working very hard, tell me about your project.
    • What are your plans for those materials?

    Ask children to provide explanations.

    • Why do you think that happened?
    • How can I help you solve this problem?
    • I am wondering, how did you do that?

    Ask children to make predictions.

    • What do you think will happen next?
    • What could we use this container for?
    • What would you do if that were you?

    Ask children to connect learning to their own lives.

    • What do you think about?
    • How did you do that before?
    • What does this remind you of?

    1.2: Strategies for Asking Questions is shared under a CC BY-NC license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Vicki Tanck (Northeast Wisconsin Technical College).