Asking the important questions

In last week’s post, I talked about the importance of getting to know children and how September is a huge learning month for me as a teacher.  This week I am thinking about what kinds of questions I need to ask children in order to know them better. My daily go to is “What would you like to do?”  I believe that in order for children to maximize their learning potential, they need to be engaged in tasks that they have chosen.

Now you may be wondering “But what if they always choose the same thing? I used to worry about this too. But here’s where a carefully designed learning environment comes into play. If the space is dynamic and provides a wide variety of activities that children can choose from, they will not choose the same thing day after day. By dynamic, I mean the opposite of static, or staying the same.

The home area
The stage area

Currently, one half of one of the classrooms is set up as a dramatic play area, where children can pretend. There is a stage with instruments and many children have pretended to be musicians, rehearsing in the locker area for a show, as well as  inviting other children to be in the band or act as the emcee.  Costumes are available as well as paper and to compose songs or make programs. The other half of the space is set up as a home with babies in a crib, a kitchen with food and dishes, and a table and chairs. A telephone, some pets, a clock, and store flyers with paper to make grocery lists, complete the area.  These areas are designed to be dynamic; they include some basic furniture but their contents can be replaced with other dramatic play items. The areas can become hospitals, schools, veterinary clinics, stores, campsites, or a whole host of other places. The possibilities are endless and are ignited by children’s imaginations.

Another question I like to ask children is “How are you feeling?” Answers vary greatly, depending on the activity the child is engaged in. On Friday, some children were “cozy”, cuddled together with a friend and some pets in the reading cube. Another was “thirsty”, after spending a half-hour running and climbing on playground equipment. Yet another was “nervous”, waiting in line to walk to the lunchtime eating area for the first time. This question can often open up the conversation about a child’s physical or emotional state and whether or not they are experiencing stress.  Self-regulation is our ability to respond to the ongoing demands of experiencing the world in a way that is both tolerable and flexible. Giving an external or internal voice to the stressors that we encounter is a self-regulation skill that children need to learn. Simply asking a child how they are feeling also helps to build trust, because children know that you will be responsive to their needs and that most importantly, you care.

“What do you think?’ is another question that I regularly ask in my interactions with children.   I could probably write a whole post dedicated just to this one important question. In fact, I think I will.

I am planning to try a couple of new grouping strategies and activities this week. Next week, I’ll let you how how they worked out.





Cathy Baker View All →

Dedicated teacher for the past 18 years. Lifelong learner. Newbie blogger. Follow me on Twitter @Baker1973Cathy

2 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Thanks for commenting, Donna! I love those articles! When I began my learning journey about FDK and PBL, these were some of the ones I read. I have been communicating with several teachers in Ontario and BC these past few years. I am hoping that the blog might be an entry point into a larger PLC with K teachers in this province. Any ideas about how I might begin this process?

  2. So great to see you making your thinking visible!
    There’s a network of #FDK teachers out there, sharing provocations, asking questions, wondering where next? I look forward to reading about what you learn about your students this week!

    Here are a few resources you might enjoy:
    Pedagogical Documentation
    How Does Learning Happen?
    Play based learning in a culture of inquiry

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Ms. Baker’s K

FDK teacher in central Newfoundland, Canada. Reggio-inspired. STEM enthusiast. Self-reg believer. Passionate about creating spaces and experiences for children that ignite curiosity and creativity.

User Generated Education

Education as it should be - passion-based.

Learning About Learning

by Donna Miller Fry (@fryed)

Discover WordPress

A daily selection of the best content published on WordPress, collected for you by humans who love to read.

The Atavist Magazine

FDK teacher in central Newfoundland, Canada. Reggio-inspired. STEM enthusiast. Self-reg believer. Passionate about creating spaces and experiences for children that ignite curiosity and creativity.


Longreads : The best longform stories on the web News

The latest news on and the WordPress community.

%d bloggers like this: