Asking questions is an important strategy which helps children, and later students, clarify and understand what they are reading. We all know how important reading is. But did you know that reading for as little as 6 minutes is sufficient to reduce stress levels by 60%, slowing heart beat, easing muscle tension and altering the state of mind?* There are more interesting facts about reading here.
- engage with the text
- think critically
- look for answers in the text
- discuss the text with others.
With younger children, we can do the same using pictures instead of written words.
In this article you can find some examples of questions to ask children:
Just like before playing sports or doing any other physical activity, it is important to warm-up and get ready for the upcoming task, in this case - reading.
What do you think the story is about? Why do you think that? What characters might be in the story?
Look at this dog! What colour is it? Is it big or small? What else can you see?
ACTIVATING BACKGROUND KNOWLEDGE
What do you know about dogs? What colour can they be? Size? Do you remember when we went to the park and saw that big dog?
Pausing your reading now and then to check comprehension helps children stay focused, monitor their understanding, and make connections.
What do you think is going to happen next? Who is he going to visit? Why do you think that? How is he going to handle this problem?
Why did he jump over the fence? Why is his dad happy? What emotions is the dog feeling?
If you were in the story, what would you hear now (alarm at the fire department)? What would you see? Can you see his sister in the picture?
What has happened to Clifford so far? Who has he visited?
USING CLUES TO PROMOTE GUESSING
What does this word mean? What do you think? Can the picture help? Let us reread this part.
Is there anything you are wondering about?
These questions help children summarise, question, reflect, discuss, and respond to text.
What do you remember happening in the book? Which animals / vehicles / people do you remember?
What is the main message of the book? What was the story about?
What were the most important events in the story?
In the beginning, it is the parent who asks and answers the questions (so called modelled reading). And just in case you have missed it, questioning plays a significant role in other areas of language development as well.
* Lewis, D. (2009). Galaxy Stress Research. Mindlab International, Sussex University.