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Thread: How do you handle questions?

  1. #1
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    Default How do you handle questions?

    On our drive to school this morning, Mira asked me what electricity was. I'm not really sure how to explain electricity to a 3 year old in a way that she understands, so I gave her a brief talk about atoms, electrons, and said something about how currents are created. I'm pretty sure she absorbed none of it. So, how do you guys handle it when your child asks a question that she couldn't possibly understand the actual explanation to?

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    We use characters, terms, stories that he does understand. (Like with electricity, we might end up talking about Ivan Vanko/Whiplash in Iron Man 2 and what his weapons are. Or talk about lightening - he's got a few boooks on both.) We might get home or use my phone to watch videos on the topic. (youtube is esp great for anything related to animals, space, weather, vehicles, etc. ) And I know, too, that while he might not get it all, he gets way more than we'd think. I know that this is the case because months later, he'll bring up snippets of the conversations in new discussions. Or we might see him doing something like crashing his cargo plane because it got hit by the electricity from the lightening. It does make an impact so we definitely don't avoid it or change the subject.

    you might look for a show called Zula Patrol on Qubo and pbs if your daughter is interested in science topics. They have some good stuff like a hatfields/mccoys episode of feuding hydrogen and oxygen atoms coming together to make water... Again, not all stuff that they'll get at 2 or 3 but it sinks in.

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    I'm starting to wonder if I should let her watch TV. She watches what we watch mostly, so it is grown up science shows, and just on weekends, every once in a while. She seems to have trouble following story lines when she has watched a couple of things (like Super Why), and loses interest easily, preferring to go off and play instead.

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    i don't live in a household where we restrict tv so it's hard for me to comment. I certainly don't plop my son in front of one for hours on end, but he has lots of shows that he loves (Rescue Heroes, Mighty Machines, Superhero Squad) and we watch stuff on natgeo, discovery. military channel, etc when we find good shows. IMO, it's about balancing the time and content and supplementing with games, books, talk, etc to expand on the multimedia experience. I know, though, that many families and the doctors associations disagree.

    (Re: my first post, though, you could skip tv and just use a computer and other books to supplement. My kid is into transformers and superheros which makes it easier, perhaps, to explain things like electricity or space b/c it gives a context. But there are plenty of other ways to address these questions. The video-based content is just one medium among many options.)
    Last edited by ibisgirldc; 01-29-2013 at 12:05 PM.

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    At 2 1/2, I try give Maiya both- answers she might be able to understand, and the full answer. I agree with PP- they absorb more than we might think!

    So for Maiya, I might have started with " Electricity is energy that can go through wires and make things turn on." Then go in to the detail you did.



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    I usually feel like a total dumb@ss and flounder for a response that makes sense in their terms. Sometimes I will just do a brief overview and say we will look up more details in books or online.
    Thing 1 (7), Thing 2 (5), Thing 3 (2)

  7. #7

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    I try yo give them information that he can relate to in his everyday life and then build on that. For electricity, I would say something about how it is what powers lights and things we plug in. He knows about wires and losing power, so we'd talk about that.

    We watch tv here rarely - maybe 20 minutes every 2 weeks, so I dont think it's necessary to watch tv to learn about the world. We use a lot of books to teach concepts. If electricity was something that really interested DS, I would go to the library and find books on it. If I saw a DVD at the library that touched on the subject, we'd use that. Every time we go to the library, we choose books on the boys' favorite topics, and then I choose books that are about new things.

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    Books and computers are great resources. So is my dh. We tend to talk to them until they start walking away or doing other things. They remember a lot, and bring it up later, and we build on it, or "scaffold" that learning later.

    http://preschooler.thebump.com/teach...city-5990.html

    http://www.explainthatstuff.com/electricity.html


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    I'm not sure if she's really interested in electricity, or if it is a one-off that popped into her head. We have talked about how there is electricity in the sockets/plug points, and how it makes appliances/light bulbs run. We lost power last night, and she had a little freak-out when she realized her night light is out, so I don't know if that's what prompted the question.

    L, thanks for the links! I may have gone into the structure of an atom in a little more detail than necessary, but we talked about electrons and protons and how they attract each other (like magnets!), how the electrons orbit the nucleus (like moon orbiting earth), and how electrons, if they wander too far, can be made to jump off its orbit and into the orbit of another atom, creating a current. I have noticed that while she may not act at the time like she understood anything, she does bring up something she heard/learned/talked about at some later point, so I suppose she's absorbing something. Hopefully, it's the correct something, and I'm not giving her the wrong information.

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    Sonja's starting to ask a LOT of questions, too. I try to explain things in relation to things she already knows. Like when she asks why Damien is sucking on my "booby," I say "that's how babies eat" or "that's what boobies are for, for feeding babies." The big question she keeps asking ins "doing, mommy?" meaning, "what are you doing, mommy?" I find I answer this most. As I said before, I try to expand on things she already knows. Like when I'm going outside to get the groceries from the car, I say "the food is outside, mommy's going to get it and bring it inside so we can eat dinner." I haven't encountered science questions yet, I think I'd be stumped with topics like electricity. Are there still Charlie Brown encyclopedias? I think those would be good to reference in this situation and similar ones. I had those growing up and I remember using them in science class in elementary school. They'd be over a 3-year-old's head but they could simplify what we use as explanations. We could use the simple definitions to shape our answers in terms a toddler can understand, KWIM?
    Leigh(36)/Matt(40)/Sonja Lily(4)/Damien Andrew(1.5)




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    I felt so dumb once Cody asked " Mom where do bricks come from"? That just sounds like such a deep question to me. I told him Bricks are made by pouring concrete into little square they harden and become bricks. I had to really think about it for a minute lol. He notices something like "Oh there are little tiny triangles on peoples' roofs and little tiny square on other roofs". He asks a lot of question and if I honestly don't know I'll tell him I'll look it up for him.



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    I'll have to google and see if there's a website with simple answers, the more I think about this post. Thanks for bringing it up!
    Leigh(36)/Matt(40)/Sonja Lily(4)/Damien Andrew(1.5)




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    When my kids ask me questions I typically ask them a few back to get a basis of what they're really asking and what made them think of it. That way I can address what they really want to know. Generally, kids that age ask questions because it's affecting their lives...a 5-7yr old may ask about something more abstract like death, love, relationships..but a 3yr old will ask because you mentioned there's no electricity and she didn't know that word . I think you handled it fine. She'll take from it what she understood and maybe store the rest away for a later connection.

    Kids are amazing and I don't think spending time answering their questions is ever wasted...respecting her enough to give her the time and attention to answer her question...to make her feel she and her question were important...that'll go a lot further than her just knowing what electricity is (which she'll eventually learn later anyway) .

    Good job momma!
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    I answer in a way they can very much grasp-at 3 we started with the light switch, lights, things that turn on and off-and then almost always take any explanations like that at least 1 step further than what I know they'll get. And if they're still curious, another step. My girlfriend is always getting on me about giving them too much information for their age but I feel like if they can grasp it, it's not too much.

    And then when they ask anything about the stars, planets, galaxies, etc my answer is always "ask your dad". Always. Even if I know they answer-or think I do! He has a math major and astronomy minor and loves to show it off and LOVES to hear them say "Dad knows all about math and space...mom doesn't know anything about it."

    They love NatGeo, Discovery-but not the kids ones. We've never really been into the kid-level shows of those things. But they've also seemed to grasp enough at the adult level to satiate them for a time, too. Right now Scharae takes Scientific American and Wired to bed with her to read before lights out. Especially if there's anything about brains or robots.

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    I'll give the best answer I can (which is sometimes admittedly pretty lame!) and promise to look it up later together if we can't do it right then. We'll either check the question out online or find a book about it from the library (age-appropriate). Books have been my savior on many subjects!

    ~ Cassie, mama to Madison (8), Ali (4) & Wesley (new dude!)


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    I'd give her a really basic answer (like, electricity is an energy that travels along the wires and lights up the light bulb when we turn on the light) and like Cassie said I might look it up later or find a video. (I'm always googling "how to explain _____ to kids" LOL)

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