Image by: Bilal Kamoon

Open-Ended Questions

Age Range
3-7 yrs
Setup Time
No set-up required!
Setup Location

Language is one of the most powerful tools for learning. We can use language to stretch children's curiosity, reasoning ability, creativity and independence.

One effective way to do this is by asking open-ended questions - those with no single right or wrong answer. Instead of predictable answers, open-ended questions elicit fresh and sometimes even startling insights and ideas, opening minds and enabling adults and children to build knowledge together.

Open-ended questions offer children the opportunity to freely express feelings, motives and ideas. A question like, "What color is that block?" evokes a one-word answer. But an open-ended question such as, "Tell me about the blocks you are using," encourages a child to describe the blocks or explain what he or she is doing. There is no right or wrong answer.

Asking open-ended questions give children opportunities to use an expanded vocabulary. An answer to an open-ended question gives us a window into what the child is thinking and feeling. The response is sometimes wonderfully creative. In explaining or describing, children also use language more fully.

Sharpen your child's ability to imagine, reason and provide solutions!


  1. Encourage your child to talk by asking open-ended questions, e.g., “How come...?” or “Why do you think...?”

  2. For older/ more advanced children, build this activity into book reading time, by inviting them to build questions based on pictures they see and provide possible options for reasons; like: "Why is the boy's clothes dirty?"; Possible response: "Maybe because he fell in the ditch while on his way to school!"

Disclaimer: This presents an overview of child development. It is important to keep in mind that the time frames presented are averages and some children may achieve various developmental milestones earlier or later than the average but still be within the normal range of development. This information is presented to help parents understand, at a high level, what to expect from their child. Any questions/concerns you may have about your child’s development should be shared with your doctor.