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Secrets from a Teacher: Ask Open-Ended Questions

One of my professors in college was adamant that we ask, “What questions do you have?” instead of, “Do you have any questions?”  He insisted that the latter question would nearly always be met with the answer, “No,” but the former encouraged thoughtful discussion.

Turns out he was right.

“What questions do you have?” is far more effective than, “Do you have any questions?” “Does that make sense?” and, “Got it?”

(Side note: I apologize if I butchered the punctuation in that sentence. It was a tricky one.)

How does that apply to your interactions with your children?  Well, when you are trying to get information out of your children, try to replace questions that can be answered with one word with questions that invite conversation or explanation.

open ended questions

Instead of, “Did you have a good day at school?” Try, “What was the best thing at school today?  The worst?”

Instead of, “How do you feel when so-and-so does such-and-such?” Try, “Tell me what it’s like when…” (Thanks, Susan Stiffelman for that one.)

And of course, instead of, “Does that make sense?” ask, “What questions do you have?”

(This post is part of a Secrets from a Teacher to Make You a Better Parent, a part of the write31days.com challenge.  The best way to keep up with this series is to subscribe via email here.)

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