Get examples of open ended questions for kids with these conversation starters! Perfect for kids to practice creative and critical thinking skills.
Confession time: Most questions I ask my twins are not open-ended:
“Do you want a pear or a banana?”
“Did you already use the potty?”
“What did you make in art class today?”
Now, there’s nothing wrong with questions like these. After all, I need to know whether we should have another potty break or which fruit to serve with dinner.
But sometimes we get caught up in facts and one-word answers that we forget to ask open-ended questions.
What are open ended questions?
What’s the difference between open- and closed-ended questions like those I shared? Closed ended questions can be answered in one or two words and usually have a right or wrong, either-or answer.
Open ended questions are those that don’t have one right answer. In fact, they can have many answers and, more important, spur further conversation. I also love open ended questions because they encourage creative and critical thinking skills.
I dive deeper into open ended questions in this article, but today, I want to get into the how. With this list, I share examples of open ended questions for the early years you can use to spark conversations with your child.
And I stick to questions that work well with the preschool stage. I didn’t want the questions to feel too far in advance for their age, and I also wanted to tap into the kinds of conversations they’d be eager to respond to.
In other words, these are the questions I ask my own kids with fantastic results.
With the nature of open ended questions, this isn’t a definitive list at all, but consider them starter prompts. You can ask one per day, or learn to be more aware so you can ask them as you see the opportunities to do so.
List of open ended questions for kids
- What was your favorite part of the day? Why?
- What makes a nice friend?
- What magic power do you wish you had? Why?
- If you could go anywhere, where would you go? Why?
- What do you think this book is about?
- What are you thankful for today? Why?
- What do you like about school? Why?
- What are you most excited about with (the party / the school performance / going to the restaurant / etc)?
- What did you like the most about the weekend? Why?
- How does it work?
- How did that happen?
- Why did you choose (that book / that shirt / that toy)?
- How are you planning to do that?
- What could we have done instead?
- What else can you use?
- How are these the same / different?
- Why is it important?
- What does this remind you of? Why?
- Show me what you can do with it.
- Tell me what happened.
And take a look at this video to learn 3 mistakes to avoid that squash open-ended conversations:
Want to learn more about how to ask open ended questions and talk to your child in an effective way (plus other parenting tips you can apply right away)? Download the bonus chapter of Parenting with Purpose—at no cost to you. You’ll also get my newsletters, which parents say they LOVE:
“Thank you for this awesome perspective! It is calming and much easier to manage my daughter’s defiance and strong will with this in mind! I will remind myself of this many times.” -Talia Telander
We get caught up with day-to-day survival mode that it’s easy to overlook the benefits of asking good open ended questions. But we need to get in the habit of asking these, and training ourselves to encourage conversations and creative thinking.
Hopefully with this list, you now have a few questions to ask. These make for wonderful dinner time discussion or end-of-the-day bedtime rituals.
After all, as important as it is to know which fruit your child prefers—pear or banana—it’s just as crucial to ask why.
Get more tips:
- Are You Asking Open Ended Questions or Squashing Conversation?
- 18 Sneaky Questions to Ask Kids about School
- 12 Children’s Books about Empathy to Read with Your Child
- Amazing Family Conversation Starters to Try Right Now
- 31 Totally Awesome Conversation Starters for Kids
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