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Questions to Encourage Deeper Thinking and Understanding

Questions often lead to a path of discovery and wonder, stimulating interest and innovation. Various types of questions will encourage your child to connect what they are learning with what they have learned. They will also inspire your child to explore concepts at a deeper level. Questions that require your child to think on a deeper level will help him practice putting his thoughts and ideas into words and help him develop well-defined communication skills.

Questions give you the opportunity to check if your child is understanding concepts and information as he learns. In addition, you will become more familiar with your child’s thought process, interests, and strengths.

Take your child’s learning experience to new depths by asking your student these 6 different types of questions.

1) Content questions

Ask questions about the content your child just read. These questions have searchable answers found within the text. They encourage comprehension and help your child retain information. Content questions are great for reviewing and summarizing content.

2) Investigative questions

Investigative questions require research to develop an explanation or conclusion. Research often includes observation, interviews, experiments, testing, and comparison. These types of questions help your child improve his ability to analyze and interpret the world in which we live.

3) Inference questions

Inference questions will challenge your child to pick up on indirect information: information not directly stated within the text. Inference questions can include phrases like “suggests that” or “could be interpreted to mean.” Inference questions nurture your child’s ability to think about and evaluate the information within the text and come up with logically supported conclusions.

There are three types of inference questions:

  • Deductive questions require your student to make a logical deduction from what they read rather than relying on the information written.

  • Speculative questions require your student to theorize or form an opinion about the meaning of the passage or an element within the text.

  • Examination questions require your student to recognize or determine the author’s, narrator’s, or a character’s perspective and thoughts.

4) Analytical questions

Ask questions that will help your child evaluate choices, behaviors, and outcomes. These types of questions help your child assess any dilemmas within the story and improve your child's ability to break down problems, make predictions, and think through possible solutions. Analytical questions will help sharpen your child’s ability to reason, make decisions, and solve problems on his own.

Example questions:

· What did the character do?

· What are the possible outcomes given the information you know?

· How do you feel about a character’s choices?

· What were the consequences of a character’s decision?

· What would you have done?

· What does the Bible say about a related circumstance or character trait?

5) Reflective questions

Have you seen The Karate Kid? This 1984 American martial arts drama film was written by Robert Mark Kamen and directed by John G Avildsen. If you have seen it, you might remember that Mr. Miyagi started training Daniel LaRusso by having him paint his fence, wax his car, and sand his deck. Daniel gets frustrated, believing he is doing menial chores. Mr. Miyagi reveals to Daniel that those chores were not menial, but rather a way to teach defensive blocks. Mr. Miyagi then proceeds to demonstrate how Daniel can use each defensive block that he learned. Like Daniel, your child can reflect on the new concepts he learned and the various ways in which he learned them. As you ask questions to help your child look back over what he learned and how he learned it, he will realize how those concepts can be useful to his future learning and experiences.

1) Process reflective questions help your child realize how they learned.

  • What skills or knowledge did you use as you worked?

  • If you worked with others, describe your experience working together.

  • Looking back, what would you change if you were to attempt this project again?

2) Product reflective questions encourage your child to identify what they can improve

  • What was the result of the work, process, or experiment?

  • What worked out well and what didn’t work out as well?

  • Can you think of anyone that would benefit from you sharing your experience?

  • How might that person benefit from you sharing your experience with him?

3) Self-assessment reflective questions:

  • What was the main point to what you accomplished or read?

  • What can you learn from it?

  • Was there anything you didn’t understand?

  • Would you like to delve deeper into any of the elements in the lesson?

6) Appreciative questions

Ask questions that will strengthen your child’s appreciation for what he has learned. Appreciative questions help your child see the present and future potential of applying his current knowledge, abilities, and gifts. Appreciative questions will help your child realize the value of learning, stimulating his motivation and enthusiasm to learn more.

Example questions:

  • How can you find more information?

  • Where can you find guidance when you are unsure of what to do?

  • How can you apply what you have learned to your own life?

In Conclusion

Vary the level of questions you ask your child. If your child is struggling with a question that requires deeper thought, check for understanding and retention of the material by asking a simpler question. Write questions down ahead of time to ensure that you are phrasing the questions well, that they are organized in a logical sequence, and that they encourage your child to use the desired thinking skills.

If the question process doesn't go smoothly at first, don't give up. As you work through questions with your child, the process will get easier and feel more natural. Best of all, you will enjoy the greatest benefit hidden among the many benefits that questions bring to enhance your child's learning and understanding: connection and togetherness!

Happy homeschooling!

-Yvonne Strachan

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Benefits of Sequential Learning

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