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Conversation Starters

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Does this scenario sound familiar? You pick your little one up from school, or maybe you are sitting at the dinner table, and you ask the age-old question, “What did you do in school today?” and the response you get is “played” or “nothing.”  If you want your little one to open up and give you the juicy details, open-ended questions that get them really thinking are the way to go. Here are a few ideas to try –

 

  • What was your favorite part of lunch?
  • Where do you play the most at recess?
  • Who is the funniest person in your class? Why is he/she so funny?
  • Tell me something good that happened today.
  • Tell me one thing that you learned today.
  • When were you the happiest today?
  • When were you bored today?
  • What was the best thing that happened at school today?
  • What was the worst thing that happened at school today?
  • Tell me something that made you laugh today.

 

When you ask anyone, adult or child, a yes or no or close ended question, the chances that the result will be an engaging back and forth interaction, are slim.  The reason being, there is typically only one way to answer these questions, they do not require one to stop, think, and reflect before responding. So you see, open-ended questions are so much more than conversation starters.  For children, these questions support the development and exercising of important critical thinking skills. When used in play they can also support the development of problem solving and scientific thinking. This is why our Play Facilitators are trained extensively in the use of open-ended questions, to support and deepen the learning that naturally occurs during play.

 

What are your strategies? Do you have a story you would like to share? I would love to hear from you.  Post a comment, story, or question on our social media outlets and don’t forget to use the hashtag #PlayIQatDCM so I can see it and respond!

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About the Author:

DCM’s Early Learning Specialist Alix Tonsgard holds an MS in Child Development from the Erikson Institute and a BA in Human Development and Social Relations from Earlham College. She came to the Museum with over ten years of experience working with children ages birth-4 years and their families. Alix is a passionate advocate for play-based learning and a bit of a research nerd.
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