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2 min read

Around age two, as children begin to combine words and make short sentences, you can engage your child in questioning exercises.

This is part of the Montessori Toddler Language Curriculum. It's a way to enrich vocabulary, develop language skills, and build confidence around communication.

Basically it's a fun and simple way to help your child develop their social and conversational skills.

It's not meant to be done like a drill, where you to sit down and ask them a ton of questions.

It should happen naturally when spending time together.

Here's how...

The Dos and Don'ts of Questioning Exercises

The Don'ts

  • Avoid questions that can be answered with a straight yes or no - You're trying to encourage your child to stretch their language skills, inviting them to use and discover new vocabulary.

The Dos

  • Ask follow up questions about their experiences - For example after they go to the park, you could ask, "what did you do at the park?" "did you see any animals? which ones?" "who did you go to the park with?" "did you have any snacks at the park?"
  • Talk about books as you're reading them - There is so much inspiration that comes from books.

Take your time with each page, look at the illustrations, look at the different characters and ask the child questions related to what you see, for example:

    • "Look at (character)! What are they doing?"
    • "What's going on on this page?"
    • "How do you think (character) feels?"
    • "What do you think is going to happen next?"
  • Talk during mealtimes - this is a great time to questions about your child's day, what they did, who they ate lunch with, etc. It's also a good time to talk about food a lot because it's right in front of you - "What fruits do you like to eat most?", "Are there any fruits that you don't like?", "What's your favourite flavour of ice cream?", etc.
  • Wait for your child to answer the question before you repeat the question or ask another one - It takes young children time to process the information you've given them. There's no need to repeat a question over and over again right away. Ask once, count to ten (in your head, slowly), and then ask again.

  • Start simple - If your child isn't quite at the stage of language development where they can engage in conversation or answer in full sentences, you can still do questioning exercises but keep it brief.

    Model how to answer the questions. For example: "What did you do at the park?" (silence) Adult: "I love going on the slide at the park! Do you like going on the slide?" (silence) "I like to go fast down the slides, do you like to go down the slide fast or slow?", etc

We also have this post from last year with some after-school conversation prompts: Why You Shouldn't Ask Your Child "How Was Your Day?"

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