81. Conversation and Questioning

Are you looking for a guaranteed way to make your child smarter?

The answer is simple: start a conversation.

Conversation with an interested adult, with high-quality, open-ended questions that require a considered answer leads to better comprehension and thinking. It also encourages creativity and provides a model for more sophisticated interaction and conversation. This is the reason teachers often reply to a child’s question with another question (known as the Socratic method) – it encourages children to examine the flaws in their own reasoning and to extend their thinking beyond the first question that pops into their head.

Helping your child to develop their conversation and questioning skills will help them understand other people’s perspectives and to organise their own thoughts in all areas of their life.

If you’re not in the habit of doing this, don’t worry: it’s easy to get started:

Ask open questions that require consideration and can’t be answered by yes or no. These questions begin with words such as who, where, when, why, what and how (not do, will or can).

However, be warned: there is a downside. Like the first time that IBM’s computer beat the world chess champion, it’s only a matter of time before your children outsmart you. It’s already happened in our house. At five, No. 1 son regularly points out flaws in my reasoning.

I think I preferred him before!

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