Why is the sky blue? Why are clouds white? Why do clouds even start with the letter C? These are common questions my three year old asks every day. He is not alone. Many kids his age get to the bottom of things by asking questions. Yet by the time kids reach middle school, they stop asking their parents questions. This is according to a Newsweek cover story, ‘The Creativity Crisis,’ published in the 2010. In pre-school however, kids like my 3year old on average, ask their parents about 100 questions a day. This decline in questioning has ramifications for children’s engagement in school, which tends to fall off the cliff when children move from elementary to high school. I came across these findings in Warren Berger’s book, ‘A more beautiful question.’ In it, he shared how children care much about the answers in their why questions. Still, why does questioning in children stop drastically and why is it not even taught in schools?
As this first cycle of homeschooling comes to an end, I have become torn with the heavy focus on subject matters like math or language or reading, and the limited focus on building skill sets such as inquiry or even questioning. Take questioning for example, my 3 year old inundates me with questions everyday. At first, and like many parents, I was tired of the questions and began to respond with the typical statement ‘because I said so.’
Lately and thanks to books I am reading like Warren Berger’s book below, I realized that his questions are necessary part of life, with kids like him actually being born questioners. My job now is to encourage it, to help him learn or even practice it where necessary. That’s all. Keep building questioning in kids. Keep letting them ask why. It matters, even when you don’t have the answers.