The right question is worth a thousand words. Well, maybe not a thousand words, but quite a few sentences! Just like adults, children writers often get stuck even when they are motivated to write through playful activities.
Asking engaging questions makes a world of difference to get those pencils moving (or keys clicking).
Here are some question pointers:
- Ask open-ended questions that allows the child to answer in complete thoughts rather than one word answers
- Listen to what the child is telling you about their story, and ask branching questions to help them add details
- Be engaged with the child to learn about their thinking and imagination, ask questions that you really want to know about- children are masters of knowing when an adult is faking interest
- Ask questions to help the child add details
- Use the character names and details from the child’s writing in the question to show your involvement
- Ask questions to help the child move the story forward- What happens next questions
- If this is to be the child’s story be careful not to get so involved that you influence the child’s writing with your ideas.
Writing with Young Children
For youngest writers with a drawing, scribbles, and maybe a few letters thrown in, it is important to encourage dialogue through questions. Asking open-ended questions as simple as, “What are you writing about?”, or “What were you thinking about as you drew/wrote this?” helps children express themselves and supports efforts to communicate. You will be amazed at how much thinking and imagination is often taking place as the child reveals the story behind their marks.
You will notice questions are a part of each of the activities in this blog. I wouldn’t know how to teach writing without them!
Do you have some ideas for engaging children with questions or a resource about talking to children about writing?
We’d love to hear if you do!