To reach our goals we have to know what we want. I believe this applies to the way we raise our kids too. If we want kids who are kind, educated, responsible, etc. we have to give our kids opportunities to develop those traits along the way.
You have to know where you want to be in life so you can make sure you are on the path that will take you there.
As a parent, I can’t decide my children’s futures for them but you’d better believe I’ll be giving them the skills they need to succeed.
One of the things I feel strongly about is that they need to learn how to learn. Self-education is something that continues long after you leave the classroom and having the ability to learn new things on your own and have the curiosity that pushes you to do that is invaluable.
The Five-Question Rule
To encourage my kids to be creative, curious, and intelligent people we have a rule. It’s called the five question rule and it applies whenever we visit somewhere away from our home.
The rule is simple. My kids have to ask five questions while we are there.
They can ask their questions to a museum docent, a zoo keeper, a park ranger, or even a strangers (with supervision of course) — basically anyone other than me.
What does the five-question rule do?
There are several reasons why the five-rule question is in effect when we visit new places.
- It encourages my kids to develop good communication skills. By asking questions, they not only have to go outside their own comfort zone and speak to a wide variety of people, they have to express their question clearly so they they can be understood.
- It encourages thinking. I want to raise kids who know how to think. They can’t do that unless they learn how to question things. I want them to think deeper about things and not simply accept what they see on first glance.
- We meet interesting people. With the five-question rule we’ve had the opportunity to chat with bird watchers, koala keepers, military veterans, engineers, and more. Those people all had experiences and insights that I can’t share with my kids. Our lives were made richer by the conversations we had.
- It makes my kids think beyond themselves. It’s said that a person wrapped up in themselves makes a very small package. I want my kids to become as big as they can be. By talking to people with a variety of personalities and experiences they are better able to understand how the world works and see needs when they are there.
- It makes my kids better observers. To ask intelligent questions, my kids have to observe their surroundings. When we first put the rule in place, I heard a lot of “but I don’t know what to ask” (insert your best whining voice here). Knowing that they had to ask questions, my kids had to look around them and really see where we were. They couldn’t rush through a museum or nature walk to get to the end. They had to savor the moment and look for things that were remarkable.
I got a lot of pushback from my kids when I first started using the five-question rule (and still do from one of my kids) but I’ve seen it do great things for them. My 7 year old even likes to try and push himself further by asking as many questions as he can think of. He made it up to 20 questions the other day while on a guided nature walk and each one of them was an intelligent, well thought-out question.
How do you encourage your kids to be curious about the world around them?