We all know how important it is to read to and with our kids. Reading with kids is a key part of their child development - it helps build necessary skills like comprehension and literacy, and encourages kids to be engaged and interested in books and words. Kids who are read to regularly at home routinely do better in school, and it's also a great way to bond with your kids. But the importance of reading to your kids extends outside the home, and far beyond just reciting the words on the pages (even if you use the funny voices!). When our kiddos head to preschool for the first time, they'll be exposed to plenty of books and be read to by their teachers. However, a new study suggests that preschool teachers may not be asking the right questions of their little pupils, and the data from this study can prove to be helpful to parents at home, too.
When preschool teachers ask their students questions after reading a book, it plays a very key role in how much the kids take away and learn from the book. But researchers have found that teachers aren't asking enough questions. Furthermore, the questions they are asking are too easy. Researchers at Ohio State University recording 5,207 questions asked by 96 pre-k and kinder teachers in the Midwest and South; they also recorded 3,469 responses from children.
The teachers were recorded in one classroom while reading a 25-page book called Kingdom of Friends, which is about arguments and resolutions between two friends. More than half (52%) of the questions asked by teachers were the simple yes-or-no variety, which typically resulted in single word answers from the students.
The other 48% of questions asked were more critical thinking who-what-how questions; when teachers asked these questions, the students gave more thoughtful and complex answers. Questions like that encourage kids to think critically about what they're being read, and help them develop more cognitive thoughts and opinions.
Experts recommend that 60-70% of shared ready conversations should be easy for children - easy questions are not bad! But the other 30-40% should be be more challenging, so kids can begin to develop those critical thinking skills. And while this study deals with preschool teachers and students, this is definitely something we can do at home when we read to our own kids, too.