Friday, January 29, 2010

Open Ended Questions

According to Wikipedia, a closed-ended question "is a form of question which can normally be answered using a simple "yes" or "no", a specific simple piece of information, or a selection from multiple choices."


Dictionary.com defines open-ended as "allowing for a spontaneous, unstructured response".

Open ended questions are a big deal for preschoolers. Give it a try. Ask a little person you know "what is your favorite store?" And then ask why it's their favorite. They may stare at you blankly or give you a completely nonsensical even fantasy-like answer. It takes a lot to think of the question you asked and then to think of what the answer might be. Particularly because preschoolers are still at the stage of wanting to make you happy with the right answer. So not only are they trying to think of the name of a store, trying to figure out whether or not they like it, they are also looking at you and trying to determine what answer will make you happy.

Contrast that with "Do you like Wal-Mart or Publix?" You'll get your answer a whole lot quicker but if you move on to the why question which is open ended you are back at the blank stare or nonsensical answer.

It reminds me of a scene in Elmo Loves You. A little girl says to Grover, "I love you!" Grover says, "Really, what is love?" She says, "Huh?" and kind of looks away. She does eventually answer. It's not that she doesn't know what love is or that she did not mean it. She just doesn't know how to explain it.

So anyway, it's a big deal and guess who surprised his Mama and Daddy by answering two open-ended questions that were on his preschool homework assignment?

Jack! Yes, Jack!

M: Hey Jack, what is your favorite store?
J: Publix!
M: Why is Publix your favorite?
J: Drive cart.

I love love love love love love how much he's communicating these days. If you don't understand his spoken language he will use signs, other spoken words, body language or he'll try to show you some other way what he is trying to say. Good times...

Don't forget to check out this week's Life is Therapy.

15 comments:

Sarah and the Gentlemen said...

So Publix has good carts, eh?

It's so funny to hear some of the answers they come up with!

mommytoalot said...

Awww way to go Jack.
I know how exciting it is when our kids can communicate not just with us but with others.
Yesterday Joey's behavioural therapist was here before I was and was talking to Damien. She understood what he said and was sooo impressed. He too was proud of himself.
...
what he said..well you'll have to wait til I post about that one..lol

Ange said...

This was so well explained. I really appreciate it.
And I appreciate how you felt with getting your answers, too.
Thanks for sharing this.

Rachel said...

I usually get the blank stares or just the ignoring treatment for open-ended questions - that's great that Jack answered them!

But wow - they have homework in Preschool?? Who knew? :)

Mary said...

I never knew that about open-ended questions before - I mean I've encountered it a lot with various kids but never understood what it was about the questions that I was asking that elicited that blank stare. AHA - now I get it! I find some kids have difficulty even into first grade, especially if English isn't their first language. I always figured that once they'd figured out what I asked the hard part was over. Hmm...

So that's pretty exciting that Jack is handling that type of question! I bet you were thrilled. When kids start being able to communicate it's such a neat time - it's like an extra layer of personality is unveiled! I'm so looking forward to communication that doesn't involve tugging on my pants ;)

Marie said...

I'm glad you guys liked the explanation. I was actually wondering if the explanation was too much but now I'm glad I left it in.
The preschool homework is more about keeping parents in the loop of what they are talking about/doing in class I think. :)

sheila said...

Yes, that was very well written. I love listening to children when the talk. So untouched by the crap of life that we all grow into.

Michelle said...

I try to make a habit of asking Kayla open-ended questions to increase her communication and vocabulary, but still find myself asking those 'yes' 'no' questions! A couple weeks ago I asked if she went outside for recess and she said 'no' and I asked 'why not' and she actually answered that it was 'cold and windy' :)

angie said...

How exciting.

I love how you prefaced his big accomplishment with what it means!

blueviolet said...

That made me smile!!! Go Jack!!!!!

jennifer said...

Yay for Publix and the fun carts! I love that Jack is bringing you so much joy with his communication. I've said it before and I'll say it again - you are a good Momma.

Childlife said...

That is just fabulous -- way to go, Jack! (My youngest would LOVE those carts too -- they look pretty cool! :D )

~Michelle @ 5MFSN

Marie said...

Thanks Jennifer and Michelle. The carts are fabulous. Go Publix!

alpharat said...

I love the reasons that kids have for picking things. My friend's daughter's favorite restaurant is Red Robin.

Because they give her balloons.

So a sweet shopping cart is as good a reason as any.

Marie said...

Alpharat, that's sweet. It reminds of a story about my nephew. When he was about 5, we were driving him to meet his parents and go to a chinese buffet. He kept saying I LOVE chinese food. My husband asked, "What's your favorite chinese food?" My nephew answered, "Green jello and cheese sticks." LOL!