What to do when kids ask too many questions in home school?
When children bombard us with questions or continually want our help what should we do?
I think this is a great opportunity to develop Growth Mindset and independent learning with your children.
One phrase that I learnt from the Head of Maths at Wimbledon High, was ‘Try Three Before Me’. I pass this onto all my clients because it encourages children to think of three ways to answer their own question before asking you. Each way should be different and then, when a child has tried something three times, if they still need help that is a great time to step in and support them. This works well for school work, homework, music practice but also general day to day tasks, for example, teaching my 3-year-old to put on and take off her own shoes. When she asks for help now, she regularly says to me, Mummy I’ve tried three times - and today she even said she had tried four times. She gets lots of Descriptive Praise whenever she tries this hard for the effort that she has put in. This encourages her to know that when she puts effort into things it is effort which is important rather than the outcome. Teaching children this helps them to develop a mindset where they believe that they can try and they will improve, rather than giving up at the first hurdle because they are worried about not getting things right and not being perfect.
The other thing parents can remember when a child asks you a question, is that it can help to ask it back to them instead of giving them the answer. Faber and Mazlish note that this encourages them to think autonomously and solve their own problems – and actually part of what genuine home schooling and schooling is about, is teaching children life skills rather than facts. So, if they say ‘Mummy, why did the Ancient Greeks have Gods’ – instead of answering it by saying, for example, ‘because they didn’t understand as much science and medicine as we did and so they needed the Gods to explain what was going on in the world. That’s why there was a God for everything from the Sky, to the Sea, to Healing people and business and so on’, you say, ‘That’s a really interesting question, what do you think the answer could be?’ It encourages them to have a go at an answer. If they say, well I don’t know, you can then encourage them to find other sources who can answer the question.
Although we haven’t been doing huge amounts of school work this week, inevitably we have had lots of conversations about Coronavirus, and one of the questions it led my son to ask me was, ‘what is an antibody?’ Now, while I could have taken a poor guess at an answer to this question, I asked him who he thought might be able to help him answer that question better than me, and he came up with two people, one a friend who is a doctor and my sister, who is a scientist. So, he decided to ask my sister the next day and got a good answer. If your best resource for directing your child to is the internet - which it might well be at the moment, do take the time to sit and sift through the right site to get information from with them. I often found when teaching, that pupils found information that was way too complicated for them. BBC bitesize is usually a really good first resource for children doing any research for school-based questions, as young as Key Stage 1 and up to GCSE level.