Answering Questions

A few weeks ago, I was out and about with Ladybug on a busy Saturday when she asked, “How did that tree grow so tall?”

That simple question was the beginning of an afternoon-long conversation about plants and what they need to grow.  I was feeling quite proud of my parenting skills.  I sometimes struggle with explaining things simply enough.  I can get bogged down in the details, and that’s kind of a curiosity-killer when it comes to my three-year-old.  That  day, though, everything clicked.


When we got home, Ladybug slipped a rock out of her pocket and put it in the living room window.  She looked up at me proudly, “It needs sun to grow!”

I wasn’t quite sure what to say to that.  My first impulse was to run out to the library to find a bunch of books about rocks to set the matter straight.*  But the more I thought about it, the more it seemed that I should just leave this be for now.  She doesn’t need to have all her questions answered immediately.  She needs to be able to hypothesize about her world without me jumping in to correct her or steer her to the answer I want her to have.

From Raising Freethinkers,

“If curiosity is what you’re after, your main goal in responding to a question shouldn’t be giving the answer.  In some cases, an immediate answer can even extinguish curiosity.  What you want is to keep the questions coming, day after day, year after year.  To do that, you want first and foremost to make the child feel that questioning itself is a fun and rewarding thing to do.”

In this case, she made a connection. It isn’t quite right, but it is certainly interesting.  The important thing for me is to realize that if she’s asking questions and making connections, she’s on the right track.


*  Well, my very first impulse was to read Do You Know Which Ones Will Grow? with her. I’d heard great things about this new picture book, but after I eventually got a copy from the library I realized it was about animals and man-made objects.  No mention of plants or rocks.  Great book, but not perfect for this situation.

Read last week’s secular Thursday post, or start at the beginning with Behind the Scenes of Atheist Talk.

Connect with me on Facebook or Twitter to recommend your favorite books for secular families, or connect with more secular families via the Secular Thursday bloggers.

Author: Mindy R

I'm a librarian, writer, book reviewer, etc.

3 thoughts on “Answering Questions”

  1. I just found your blog today – love it! You are in my google reader now so I don’t miss a post. We are new homeschoolers – secular by nature ;) – and I’m excited to keep finding secular resources – it’s like a great (albeit tiring) game of find-the-needle-in-the-haystack. Thanks!!

  2. Thanks for the kind words! Please feel free to let me know if there are any particular subjects you need books about. I’m happy to help :)

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