If you teach kindergarten, you know how curious young children can be. They want to understand how things work and why, and they aren’t afraid to ask what they want to know. But as students advance through the grades, some become reluctant to speak up for a variety of reasons. Here are three ways to encourage your students to keep asking questions:
Don’t give the answers. Yes, your job is to teach, but deliver information and lessons in a way that invite your students to meet you halfway. Don’t just step in when they get confused; instead, show them what to do, step by step. When it makes sense, let them figure things out on their own, and be there to guide them.
Answer their questions with questions. There are times you’ll need to give your students answers, and there are times when you should urge them to think more deeply or approach problems in new and different ways. When your students want you to just answer or solve something for them, redirect them to come up with and test new ideas. Give them a few nudges in the right direction with your line of questioning.
Establish a classroom culture of respect. Make students feel safe to ask thoughtful, honest questions. Encourage everyone in your class to listen to their peers and give one another feedback. Be a good role model by asking questions of your students and facilitating conversation. It can be helpful to make participation and engagement part of students’ grades.
Asking questions is an integral part of learning, but some students feel timid about doing so. Keep encouraging your students to raise their hands. Learning to think critically and question ideas will benefit them.