Encourage independent thoughts in children by remembering to ask them their opinions. It is always heartening to listen to parents not only ask young children, “What do you think?” but then to have them follow up with the all-important word, “Why?”
Children learn that their opinions matter when we encourage them to tell us what they like or dislike. They should learn that it is perfectly fine to say, in a polite way, that they do not like something. Teachers often ask children to give a thumbs up or down after listening to a book. Accepting that not all books are enjoyed by everyone is a way we can show our children that people have different opinions and these need to be respected.
One of the keys is asking children to state reasons for their opinions. You may need to give them sentence starters like the following:
I liked it because it was funny when __________________
I liked it because the picture of the was __________________
I liked the ending because ________________________
I did not like it when _______________________
I did not like the character when it _________________________
I did not think it was funny when ____________________
This applies to many experiences. Listening patiently to children as they tell whether or not they like something and their reasoning is an important learning experience. It not only teaches them that their opinions matter but it models for them that we all must listen and respect the ideas of others.
NAEYC – 2.B.02., 2.B.07., 2.D.03.
Head Start – II.C., VIII.B.