Talking and asking questions to build thinking skills

June 29, 2018

As babies grow into toddlers and toddlers into preschoolers, what they need from parents and caregivers grow and change too. Your interactions will progress from responding to your little one’s gurgles, sounds, pointing and gesturing to having to come up with rapid fire answers to the when, why and how questions.

Whatever the stage, being responsive and encouraging lots of opportunities to talk and interact is an important way to boost your child’s learning and development. And you, as their first and most important teacher, are the perfect source to give them what they need, when they need it.

On a recent stroll past a kindergarten at pick up time, I witnessed a great interaction between parent and child. It went like this:
Toddler: [pointing] What’s that?
Parent: That’s a street sign. All streets have a name. That sign has letters that tell us what the name is. Our street has a name too!
Toddler: [pointing to a car] That has a letter on it too!
Parent: Yes that’s a number plate. Do you know that each one is different? You won’t find another car in the whole country with the same one.

Questions like these may be exhausting at times but they are a great example of a toddler taking an active role in and directing his own learning. He is working out how letters and numbers work and looking to a knowledgeable source (his Mum) to expand his understanding. Her answers are helping him to make sense of his world while also helping him expand on his ideas. They are of great value.

When your child asks questions, even when it’s the thousandth one that day, it’s helping him or her learn, grow and develop strong relationship skills. By showing interest and being generous and open with your responses, you’re helping your child enormously.

But don’t feel you have to be an expert in everything. Little ones can throw some really curly questions that leave us grownups stumped! Checking out your local library’s non-fiction collection can be a great way to explore topics that spark your child’s curiosity. It’s a wonderful way to make discoveries together.