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Importance Of Using Open Ended Questions

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Importance Of Using Open Ended Questions

As the words indicate, Open-ended questions have no right or wrong answers and thus cannot be answered with a simple, ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Open-ended questions figure in several of the pedagogical practices outlined in the EYLF, like ‘being responsive to children, ‘learning through play and most of all, ‘intentional teaching’. The following article provides the major benefits of using open-ended questions in the early childhood education context.

More Comprehensive

Open-ended questions allow children to include more information, feelings, attitudes and understanding of the topic. Thus while close-ended questions like, “How many colours do you see in this picture?” will offer up a single correct answer, “What do you think is happening in this picture?” will elicit a wider range of details and responses from children. Used creatively, such open-ended also encourage children to think beyond the obvious and explore as many possibilities as they can, thus building their creative skills.

Fosters Cognitive Skills

Using open-ended questions can help children build their cognitive skills when engaged in tasks or activities. For example, if an educator observes a child using blocks to build a tower, instead of asking, “Are you building a tower?’, a question like, ‘Tell me about what you’re doing?’ can get them to think about how they might approach, plan and execute their plans; if the child appears to hit a roadblock, again instead of asking, “do you want help?”, the child can be encouraged to find solutions with open-ended questions like, “Why do you think this happened?’, or “what do you think would work?”. Eventually the educator might also use such questions to extend the child’s thinking by asking, “What would happen if there were...” or “How would this change, if we use these instead of ….?”

More Child-Centred

One of the biggest benefits of using open-ended questions during activities is that it keeps the focus squarely on the child. While close-ended questions like, “Do you want to read a storybook now”, hardly give the child any options, asking an open-ended question like, “I see you picked this storybook about the Gingerbread Man – what do you like about this book?’, gives the child an opportunity to express their own thoughts, ideas and opinions besides giving the educator valuable opportunities to observe children’s interests and strengths and use them as provocations to build further learning opportunities.

Develops Language

Close-ended questions, like Do you love your pet, can be replied with just yes or no. open-ended questions on the other hand like Tell me more about your pet encourages the child to use a lot of different words, for example drawing upon a wider range of vocabulary or adjectives and adverbs when describing their pet dog or rabbit. As children acquire more language, they are better able to develop social and emotional skills – a process which can be further supported by open-ended questions, like “How would you feel if that happened to you?” and “How do you think ... feels?”

In all these ways open-ended questions are hugely important in expanding children's curiosity, creativity, reasoning and independence.

Further Reading

Using Open-Ended Questions with Children - The following article provides information on the benefits of open-ended questions, 

Open-Ended Play Materials - The following article provides information on open-ended play materials, the benefits of open-ended play materials, a list of open-ended play materials and more. 

Benefits of Open-Ended Questions

Created On September 23, 2022 Last modified on Friday, September 23, 2022
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