What Kinds of Questions We Ask Children Matter

The kinds of questions teachers ask children when they read books affect how much children learn, according to a new study. The study observed teachers during classroom story time and discovered the questions they ask are often too simple.

Only 24% of what teachers said when not reading the text were even questions. And those questions were answered correctly 85% of the time. While this study observed teachers, the same applies to parents and their children during story time.

Classrooms were monitored while teachers read a 25-page story called Kingdom of Friends in which two friends argue but learn to resolve their differences. All discussion was transcribed by researchers, both the teacher and children. Some five thousand questions by teachers and just under thirty five hundred child responses were recorded.

Over half, 52%, of questions were yes or no type questions. As we would expect most these questions were answered one-word style by children. The rest of the questions asked why and how.

The latter type, researchers say, are the type we need more of because they tend to produce more complex answers from the children.

The study was published by the journal called Early Childhood Research Quarterly.