Teaching Tips – Inquisitive Children

Teaching Tips – Inquisitive Children

Children, bless their little cottons, are very inquisitive little creatures. In true politician style, ask a child a question and do not rule out the fact that your question might be answered with a question! There is absolutely nothing wrong with a child asking questions, it is how they absorb information, but what if a child asks you questions at the wrong time in a classroom? How?

So, the children in your classroom have been working on a project but you need to gain all of their attention. So you count backwards with your hand raised 3… 2… 1…Now you have all of the class silent and awaiting for you to address them with some more vital information…

(Cue the child with the inappropriate or irrelevant question!!!)

So a child has left their seat to come up and ask you a question, even though the whole class are sat down starring at you and waiting for the next instruction.

It is a classic scenario that every teacher faces newbie or experienced, NQT or Head.

So how to deal with this situation…

If you talk to the child, regardless of if the question is about the topic or not, you are neglecting 29 other children, thus opening the door to a bit of low level disruption, A.K.A chatter. Which means once you have dealt with the single question (that might lead on to further questions and spending more time with this one child), you then have to rope the class back in again.

If you address the 29 members of the class ignoring the child, it’s like having a customer next to you waiting to be paid change. They keep looking up at you then looking around, and then looking back at you again, it might knock you off of your stride.

NQTs are classic at struggling with this minor problem, and when I was an NQT I was exactly the same. You just want to make every child in the class happy and all at once!

But let’s be realistic here… What is the child doing out of their seat in the first place, when everyone else is sat down?

Are they struggling? Are they a needy child generally? Or are they craving attention in this is the perfect way of doing just that?

How to deal with this situation

Firstly, get a word in before the child does. That way you are avoiding letting the child get their question in. Being a soft hearted teacher you will feel duty bound to answer the one child that has come up to talk to you if they ask a question, but this will be neglecting everyone else. So get in there first:

“Is the question about what we are doing Ryan? If it is, then it could be that I will be explaining it right now to you and the rest of the class. And if I haven’t answered your question, then put your hand up when I have finished explaining and I will come and see you.”

What you have done theoretically is eliminated having to answer a question straight away and sat the child back down, safe in the knowledge that he will eventually get his question answered, and not lost ground on your patiently seated 29 students. Ryan might only need to go to the toilet or have a burning desire to ask about what it is we are learning next… All questions I have been asked in the past!!!

A second approach is to be stern, it works as well and reminds children they shouldn’t be out of their seat if that was the instruction.

“What are you doing out of your seat Ryan? Go and sit back down now and if you have a question, your hand needs to be raised.”

The benefits are that Ryan will go and sit down straight away and you can carry on addressing the class until you are ready to see him. The chances are he will have his hand up the whole time you are talking to the class to ask for a tissue or something else, but that’s teaching.

When does the single child take priority?

If Ryan came up to me with a runny nose, or nose bleed, something where he needed medical attention or was desperate for the toilet, naturally he would need to go ASAP. The longer you teach, the more you get to read the signs of whether a child needs the toilet immediately, or can wait a couple of minutes, or are simply just trying it on as all their friends have asked to go as well… I’ve had that situation once or twice too!!!

Your role as a teacher is not only to pass on knowledge but to keep control of the class, so better to sit one child down and see to them when you are ready, than lose the attention of the rest of the class over small potatoes.

Just a little tip that might help you NQTs

And remember… You are in control!!!

By Andy T

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