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4 Simple Ways to Integrate Inquiry into Your Kids’ Daily Lives

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Some of the links below may be affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and finalise a purchase. All product recommendations are products that I have used and loved, or products that I would recommend based on experience.

You might be wondering why it is important to include inquiry into your children’s daily lives at home.  Inquiry has the power to create inquisitive, thinking, questioning children and eventual adults.  It makes a difference to children’s desire to learn. A desire to learn is the first step to successful and enjoyable learning. Here are four simple steps to help you integrate inquiry into your daily lives.

Simple steps to include inquiry in your daily lives

  1. Sharpen your powers of observation and model it to your children

Observation is part of our everyday life, and it is crucial to us as parents and teachers to understand our children and their needs. In terms of encouraging inquiring minds, we need to model observation to our children so that they become interested in the world around them.

Let’s create a scenario.

Imagine you and your child/children are walking down a path. Around you there are plants, perhaps a ladybird or butterfly on a flower or leaf, a bird hopping on the path ahead. There may be a car or two passing by. As you walk what do you do? If you just walk silently, nothing happens. If your child/children are lucky. they might have curious personalities and stop to ponder the ladybird on the leaf. They see it but nothing further happens. You continue walking on enjoying your walk.

Now imagine as you approach and spot the ladybird on the leaf you model awe and wonder and interest.

“Wow! Look at this ladybird! Do you see the spots on its wings? What’s it doing?”

Or there could be an interesting plant, that you could touch if safe to do so.

You could say something like this, “Feel these leaves…they’re spiky, aren’t they?”

And if the plant or flower has a scent, smell it and name it if you know the plant’s name.

Now what has your child learnt? Here are just a few new learnings…

  • How to observe and be excited by the world around them by following your example.
  • They have expanded their schema https://www.educationcorner.com/schema-theory/ – schema is the way we store information in our memory banks so that we can retrieve it easily when we need to make sense of something in the future.
  • They have learnt new vocabulary.
  • They have used their sense of touch, sight and smell to build their understanding – thereby developing greater pathways in the brain. Have a look at this simple video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMyDFYSkZSU to learn how a child’s brain develops in the early years.
  • They are developing an appreciation for the natural world.

Read more about the power of observation in my post here.

  1. Ask questions

You probably noticed in the example above that an important part of helping your children to think, is to ask questions. The questions you ask should be open ended. Download my helpful list of Open-Ended questions here. That means that the question should be open to interpretation and inquiry, not require a simple yes or no answer. Obviously, you should consider the age of the child. For a toddler or young child, you might ask as they touch the leaf of a plant, “How does it feel?” Then you would respond so that they can learn the word associated with the texture of the leaf, “See it’s spiky. Feel that? Yes, spiky, ouch!”

For an older child, once they have seen the lady bird you could ask, “I wonder what kind of animal a ladybird is? See, what is it eating? I wonder if all ladybirds have the same number of spots on their wings?” “We should look it up when we get home.” And just like that you have opened a world of inquiry and discovery.

  1. Find the answers to the questions

Returning to our example, for a very young child or a toddler, perhaps you might read a story about a ladybird like The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle. For an older child (4- to 6-year-olds) you might want to look through a non-fiction book about ladybirds, something like Learn About Ladybirds by Goss Castle or online at National Geographic Kids https://www.natgeokids.com/au/discover/animals/insects/ladybird-facts/

  1. Take the learning further

Children are naturally curious so providing opportunities for them to explore and encourage their curiosity is important for their development and learning. Their curiosity can be taken even further when they are encouraged to express their learning in creative ways. This is only limited by the resources available to them.

What kinds of activities could they do? Let’s continue our ladybird theme as an example.

  • Draw or paint ladybirds
  • Make some play dough or use plasticine to create ladybirds – focus on the information you read to have the correct number of legs (insects have 6 legs remember?)
  • Design and create a ladybird using recycled materials
  • Create a stop-motion project – if you are going to use technology, you may as well use it to learn something! Stop motion is a creative way to use technology to make simple movies. Check out this page to learn more https://techwiser.com/stop-motion-apps-kids-mobile-pc/
  • Write and illustrate their own non-fiction information book about ladybirds or even their own fictional picture book. In my own experience children love stapling pages together to create a booklet and then to write and illustrate their own stories – encourage your children to see themselves as authors.

 

Hopefully you can now see how easy it is to make inquiry thinking part of your everyday experiences to encourage your children to grow into inquisitive, thinking beings that will be capable of solving problems and thinking creatively in the future.

If you found this information useful or helpful, please share it far and wide to create thinking communities all over the world.

Take care until next time.

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