When we are talking to children it is often tempting to use the question ‘why’…. ‘why did you do that?’ but for most preschool children this question is too complex.  Here’s a short analogy explaining ‘why’ :-)

Blank devised four level of questions.  Why falls into the fourth, most complex level as it is considered to be a universal question.

What are Blanks Level of Questions?

Blank’s level of questioning is a framework for thinking about different types of questions that we might ask when we’re trying to learn or understand something. The framework includes four levels, with each level building on the previous one:

Level 1: Literal Questions

These are questions that ask for basic, factual information. They can usually be answered by simply finding the right piece of information in a text or other source. Examples of literal questions might include “What is the capital of France?” or “Who wrote the novel ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’?”

Level 2: Interpretive Questions

These are questions that ask you to go beyond the literal meaning of the text and think about what it might mean or imply. Interpretive questions require you to analyse and draw conclusions based on what you’ve read or heard. Examples of interpretive questions might include “Why do you think the main character in this story made the choices they did?” or “What is the author trying to say about human nature in this essay?”

Level 3: Applied Questions

These are questions that ask you to take what you’ve learned and apply it to new situations or contexts. Applied questions require you to think creatively and use what you know in new ways. Examples of applied questions might include “How could you use the principles of this scientific theory to solve a real-world problem?” or “What would happen if you applied the ideas in this historical text to a modern-day situation?”

Level 4: Universal Questions

These are questions that ask you to think about the big picture and consider the broader implications of what you’ve learned. Universal questions require you to think critically and reflect on your own values and beliefs. Examples of universal questions might include “What does this work of literature say about the nature of human existence?” or “How does this historical event connect to larger patterns of human behaviour?” or “Why did a character in a novel act in a certain way?”

By asking questions at each of these four levels, we can deepen our understanding of the world around us and become more thoughtful, engaged learners.

What can you Use Instead of ‘Why?’

So instead of using “why” questions, what can you use instead? It’s helpful to use open-ended, blank level questions that encourage exploration and discovery. Here are some examples of blank level questions that you can use with young children:

  1. What do you see?
  2. What do you think will happen next?
  3. How does that feel?
  4. What can we do with this?
  5. Where do you think that goes?
  6. Can you show me how to do that?
  7. What do you think about that?

By using open-ended questions like these, you can encourage your child’s natural curiosity and help them learn about the world around them in a way that feels fun and engaging.

It’s important to remember that young children learn best through play and exploration, so try to incorporate these questions into your everyday activities. For example, while you’re playing with blocks, you might ask, “What can we build with these?” Or while you’re out for a walk, you could ask, “What do you see in the trees?”

By using blank level questions instead of “why” questions, you can help your child develop critical thinking skills and encourage them to explore the world around them in a fun and engaging way. So next time you’re talking with your child, try using some of these open-ended questions and see what kind of answers they come up with!

Further Information

  1. The National Literacy Trust: Resources for early years, primary and secondary schools. | National Literacy Trust