Ever been stumped by a question your child asked you? Yeah, me too!
Children are naturally inquisitive and down and dirty scientists. My son has explored critters under stones, built himself a zip line between two trees (it really works after multiple variations and attempts) and even sleuthed out what kind of animal skull he found in the woods. A question lurks and a kid asks it, there’s no editing or second guessing like an adult might do.
I remember as a kid, I was impressed that whenever I was at my friend, Bene’s, house, if a question or disagreement arouse, the family went to the set of encyclopedia’s and immediately sought the answers. I loved that it didn’t float out there unanswered, I loved that we could hope to satisfy that curiosity. Kids want to know.
Today, the internet provides us an even greater tool to help give our children the accurate answers they crave immediately. As parents, we get to read and learn something new ourselves and then help to break it down and explain it to our children at an age-appropriate level. An inquiry by a kindergartener can be answered with pictures and simpler phrasing while a teen’s question can become an in-depth discussion or the spark for their next school project.
A question can also lead to activities and further exploration. That question about animal poop could become the catalyst for a nature hike to look for sample droppings (also called scat) and identifying them and figuring out where that animal may live. Perhaps the wondering how high a cookie could fly leads to building a flinging mechanism to experiment. As parents, these questions can be precious opportunities for teaching and learning. We’re not only learning more about the world around us, but learning about our children’s interests and affinities.
Can you use those tricky questions to nurture your child’s love of learning and the joy of working toward getting an answer? We don’t need to have all the answers, but we can encourage our children to appreciate the process of discovery.
The questions kids ask clearly teach us, too. Regularly, I need to hunt down answers, “Mom, how long can a tape worm grow?” “Mom, why do we eat cake for birthdays?” “Mom, why does that bird keep flying into our window?” Sometimes, I really just don’t know! I’m honest with my kids about that, and then we work together to find out and learn something new. It’s kind of exciting to pause adult tasks and learn that tape worms average 6 – 10 feet and that the bird sees his own reflection and attacks to protect it’s territory (no matter what they say, the picture of the falcon in the window didn’t deter this guy, he was persistent). I’ll leave you the fun of researching why we celebrate birthdays with cake!
In your family, where have some tricky questions led you?