Research to Learn

Research is the component of our learning model that teaches our children to ask questions and find answers.

Questions Questions Questions!

As our toddlers start to become fluid with words they ask question after question. This is natural curiosity and curiosity will take them a long way. Unfortunately, in our busyness or tiredness of everyday life, we see it as a stage our children have to get over. What a shame! It is our children’s curiosity that will lead them to make wonderful discoveries. They may not discover new countries or new scientific formulas but if they can discover truths and make decisions to live in those truths I will have been a successful teacher!

The important thing is not to stop questioning.
Curiosity has its own reason for existing.
One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates
the mysteries of eternity, of life,
of the marvelous structure of reality
.It is enough if one tries merely to
comprehend a little of this mystery every day.
Never lose a holy curiosity.

~Albert Einstein
Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921

As you start to think about the questions that your children ask, you can be encouraged that their curiosity is still alive and ready for you to enhance.

Next time you are reading aloud to your children and they ask a question, don’t be frustrated at the break in flow of story – consider their question. (Of course, there is always context and appropriateness but I urge you to at least consider it.)

Our children ask questions such as

  • Where does this person come from?
  • Was this a long time ago?
  • Is this story true?
  • What does that word mean?
  • If this is new a new way, how did they do it before?
These are some of the questions Daniel asked me this week. They are good questions. Not only do they indicate that he was listening as I was reading to him but also that he was thinking and making connections with things that he already knew. These are key skills that we want our children to develop before they become independent learners.

As independent learners my children continue to ask the same questions they used to ask me but now they can ask of themselves as they read for themselves. Our older children record these thoughts and question in their reading journals.

Good questions to start with are

  • Who
  • Where
  • What
  • Why
  • When
  • How
These questions can apply in any context.

Once a question is asked an answer needs to be found. This is the common understanding for Research; to dig in and find answers but really research starts with asking questions.

Finding Answers

How you respond to your preschoolers questions will affect their education. Contrary to what we may feel, when we have to admit that we don’t know the answer this is a positive towards our children’s education. This tells them that
  • learning is a life long pursuit
  • success isn’t based on knowing everything
  • it is important to know where to find the answers

Knowledge is of two kinds.
We know a subject ourselves, or
we know where we can find information on it.

~Samuel Johnson (1709 - 1784)

We have the opportunity to model to our little people the skill of finding answers:

  • We may ask a wiser person,
  • We may look in a book, an encyclopedia, dictionary, atlas
  • We may do an online search.
Our children need to know that they can find answers.

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