Five Years of Asking

One of the most important things a parent can do for their children is encourage them to ask lot of questions.

Just as importantly parents need to respond with logical and sensible answers.

Ok, so all children need a lot of creative stimuli for their ever-so-active imaginations!

But nothing hurts a child’s education more than supercilious and nonsensical answers. No matter how bothersome the questions seems.

"Why?", you might ask.

No doubt your child has asked you this same question a billion times each day since its third birthday! The best answers is by example:

During a train ride earlier this week I had the good fortune to listen to a five-year-old boy ask that question of his mother on several occasions, interspersed with questions about the train, its destination and other important questions to every five-year-old. More about them in a minute.

This young man is the spitting image of Jonathan Little. You know, "Stuart Little" ’s older brother.

Anyway, Jonathan* (*will be his name for the duration of my story) continued to ask "Why?" of everything he saw both inside and outside the train. When we went through the tunnel, John asked "Why?" When another train screamed past in the opposite direction, again "Why?" When we stopped for no apparent reason, yet again "Why?" You get the picture.

For every question, his young mother responded as best she could. Before she’d finished, John already had another question, but more intricate than the first. Yet his mother never tired of this game. After all, it was Jonathan’s fifth birthday today!

Jonathan had glasses, yet they did not hide his quizzical nature. His brain was working over-time, thinking through each answer, formulating new ideas, then inventing heard equations of probability – all based on information provided by mum.

Does this remind you of anyone? Of your own childhood, maybe? Of your children? Or maybe of yourself?

Every time I discover these children on trains, I am awestruck by their natural intelligence at such a young age.

Every question asked for more, not one was left ‘open’. Jonathan’s mother was forced to give more interesting answers each time.

And this is why I got both interested and involved…

From the many times I’ve stopped to listen (on trains, trams, buses, in supermarkets and local eateries) to these type of conversations, it would seem that some mothers believe that supercilious and fantastical answers will encourage a child’s learning curve.

I wholeheartedly DISAGREE.

In order to educate the youth of today, and I mean those aged between three and nine, they need to know the truth. Fairies at the end of the garden, fire-breathing dragons, full-scale teddies that wear only a vest coat and monsters under the bed just don’t cut it.

OK, so the ‘supposed’ truth is not always factual nor based on anything tangible or scientific – but based on testimony handed down throughout the ages. If this is all their is, then that will have to suffice. Some might say that contradicts "fire breathing dragons". Prove they exist outside a fiction-novel and maybe you’re correct.

So it really amazed me when this mother gave intelligent answers. "Why are train tracks on rocks?" was answers with "Its’ to soak up the oil dripping beneath the trains." Is this true? I don’t know, but it seemed logical to me!

Interestingly, the boy had just as good an explanation. "Rocks make the train stay upright." Simple, yes, but inside a five-year-olds mind is a brain filled with information provided by his parents. If their data is limited, his will be also. His brain formulated an answer from the limited data, bringing all the combined information together – and supplying an alternative answer based on a limited vocabulary. Heck, my computer can’t do that!

Suddenly I wish my computer had the brain of a five-year-old. The world is so much simpler, the answers are based on supposition and not intangible facts, there is a mother-computer that can supply additional data when your own database is incomplete – and money is no object.