As parents and teachers, we often find ourselves at a loss for words. We want to connect with kids but sometimes don’t know where to start the conversation about their day.
That’s why we’ve put together this massive list of open-ended questions for teachers and parents. These questions will help spark conversation and connection between you and the child.
If you are an inquiry-based teacher or parent, these open-ended questions examples are perfect for you. Inquiry questions for kids are a way to get kids thinking on their own terms and without any barriers.
These open-ended questions cover toddlers, preschoolers, and even older students. Below you will be able to download these questions in a convenient pdf of the open-ended questions.
Also, this list of questions for kids is not limited to your imagination! Add your own thought-provoking questions for kids and grow this list.
Furthermore, these types of questions allow the adults in a child’s life to gather information in order to better guide the child. Above all else, it is pretty exciting to observe a child in the midst of this type of thinking.
Simple questions often ignite creative thinking and ideas not previously imagined by the child.
Open-Ended Questions for Toddlers & Preschoolers
One of my big intentions as a parent is to allow children to solve problems and come up with solutions creatively. In other words, I desire children to think critically about a problem and embrace failure as an opportunity to iterate and be better.
A fantastic way to inspire this behavior than by asking questions. Also, asking funny questions is perfect for engaging kids!
In addition, I live by this approach in whatever we happen to be doing in life – brushing our teeth, building with legos, writing, climbing, changing the laundry, hiking, or any kind of STEAM project.
What are open-ended questions?
Before we dive into examples of open-ended questions, I thought it would be helpful to go over why open-ended questions are so critical in a child’s learning & development. Furthermore, take a closer look at open-ended vs. closed questions.
Asking leading questions is similar to interviewing a witness on trial. Above all, the goal is to gather as much information as possible. Similarly, I use this approach in my parenting.
The same can be said for asking close-ended questions or questions with single-word answers such as “Yes” or “No.”
As you can conclude, close-ended questions can be answered without a lot of detail. Likewise, multiple-choice questions are only slightly better because the child can simply guess or choose what he believes you would like him to answer.
Finally, let’s go into the benefits of asking open-ended questions.
The Benefits of Asking Open-Ended Questions
As parents, we always look for ways to understand our children better and encourage them to open up to us. One way to do this is by asking open-ended questions.
Open-ended questions are those that cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.” They require thought and usually begin with who, what, when, where, why, or how.
Benefit #1: Open-ended questions promote critical thinking.
When you ask your child an open-ended question, you encourage them to think critically about the answer. They have to process the inquiry and come up with a response that is more than just a single word. This type of thinking is an essential skill that will help them in school and in life.
Benefit #2: Open-ended questions encourage communication.
Frequently, children are reluctant to communicate with their parents because they fear judgment or criticism. When you ask your child open-ended questions, you are letting them know that you are interested in hearing what they have to say without judgment.
This can help encourage them to communicate more freely with you about both good and bad experiences.
Benefit #3: Open-ended questions show that you value your child’s opinion.
Asking your child for their opinion shows that you value their thoughts and ideas. This can build self-confidence and help them feel more comfortable sharing their opinions with others.
Moreover, it can also help strengthen your relationship with your child as they feel like they can come to you with anything on their mind.
Examples of Close-Ended Questions
Below are examples of closed-ended questions to give you a perspective on the different approaches. Keep in mind that you might need to practice this approach.
However, there are many opportunities to turn a close-ended question into an open-ended question. Furthermore, this step in the process might be a great segue as you train yourself to approach communication in an open-ended way.
For example, you might ask:
- Do you enjoy sports? Why?
- What is your favorite food & why?
- Why did you decide to draw a dragon?
- What is your favorite subject in school? Tell me more.
- If you could choose any activity to do in your free time, which activity would you choose & why?
Examples of close-ended questions might look like this:
- How was your day?
- Did you enjoy dinner?
- Do you like being a big brother?
- Which sport is your favorite?
- Do you have any pets?
- Which flavor of ice cream do you like best?
- Did you have fun playing at Joe’s house?
- Are you sad?
- What makes you mad?
- Do you enjoy skiing?
The Importance of Asking Open-Ended Questions
Open-ended questions for kids are great for developing executive functioning skills. Above all else, keep in mind that children are natural problem solvers. However, there is a short window to nurture and encourage that innate curiosity.
Questions require room for pontification and teach children to think about the many angles of topics. Children who develop this approach to thinking will be able to navigate the world more successfully.
There are also benefits to communication, as children can extensively explain their perspectives and detail their thinking. Encouraging questions where there is no right or wrong answer helps a child learn to think and not mention to develop confidence and conviction in their options.
Benefits of Asking Kids Questions
- A child is able to go deep on a specific topic
- More meaningful answers manifest
- The child owns his learning
- More engaged child
- The child naturally becomes more curious
- Motivation to want to learn more increases
- Develops research skills
- Encourages a growth mindset and personal responsibility
- Nurture critical thinking skills
- Teaches how to ask the right questions
Hopefully, these open-ended question examples for students will help you guide our little problem solvers!
Examples of Open-Ended Questions for Students
One central point of asking children open-ended questions for kids of all ages is to gather information.
- What would happen if…
- I wonder what…
- What do you think might happen when…
- How did that happen?
- What do you need to do to begin the project?
- How does it work?
- What do you think is happening?
- What might you change?
- Can you think of…
- What is your plan?
- I wonder how…
- I wonder what will happen next…
- I wonder what will happen if we change this…
- What is the best part of being the oldest in your family?
- Will you tell me about a time when someone was kind to you today?
- What do you think might happen next?
- What made you think of that?
- How could you…
- If you could be any animal, what would it be and why?
- If you could choose any superpower, what would it be and why?
- What do you see?
- Tell me why…
- What should we put here?
- Tell me what…
- Can you think of other ways to…
- Do you have any ideas…
- How could we figure that out?
- Which design is your favorite & why?
- What might you keep the same?
- Now tell me about a time when…
- How do you come up with that solution?
- Tell me how…
- Help me fix this…
- Do you have any ideas for solutions?
- Are there any other ways we could…
- What do you think about…
- If you could travel to any place in the universe, where would you travel and why?
Another fantastic way to get kids to communicate is by using word clouds. It is a type of brainstorming that ignites a child’s use of language and helps him convey his thoughts and feelings.
Related Read: Why Asking Simple Opened Ended Questions Matters
Have fun with these questions and get kids really thinking! Kids are natural problem solvers and scientists!
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