This week I have given a few tours of the school. That in itself is not that unusual. I have the privilege of escorting people around the school often. Many times the parents bring their children with them. This week a family considering moving to the area came in for a tour of the school. Dad, mom, an elementary student and a toddler followed me around the building sharing about who we are and what we do while answering questions that they had.
The elementary student greeted me by hiding behind his dad. That quickly faded to at least 10 questions in regards to clubs. “Do the clubs have a special room for them? Do I have a choir class? Do I have recess? What is for lunch today? What room is used for STEMM? Do I have homework?” Occasionally, an interjection of a statement would come. “I want to work with computers when I grow up! I enjoy art too.” I have to say, it was an interesting tour. Later the dad apologized for so many questions. There was no need to apologize. I loved the questions. I got to see what he was interested in and what he valued. This shy boy at first became an inquisitive and wondering child.
Children deserve to be given the time and respect to acknowledge their concerns and questions. Questions drive the wonder of the universe. Our wonder of how the universe works and what our purpose is, is at the heart of the Gospel. We are designed to ask questions. We are designed to wonder. Kids deserve adults and teachers who understand the miracle of our cognitive design.
The role of children’s questions in their cognitive (the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses) development has been largely overlooked. If questions are a force in cognitive development, the following must be true:
- Children must actually ask questions that gather information;
- Children must receive informative answers to their questions if they are able to be of use to cognitive development;
- Children must be motivated to get the information they request, rather than asking questions for other purposes such as attention;
- The questions children ask must be relevant and of potential use to their cognitive development;
- We must see evidence that children’s questions help them in some way-that is, that they can ask questions for a purpose, and use the information they receive purposefully to successfully achieve some change of knowledge state.
I know, by the time a parent has heard “why” 1,000 times before breakfast patience is a bit thin. However, it is important to allow them to ask and persevere through the onslaught of questions. Kids deserve to be heard and allowed to question in order to foster their brain’s development. The child’s mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses hinges on the questions they engage.
Preface. (1999). Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 64(2), Vii-Ix. doi:10.1111/1540-5834.00016