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Why children ask “why?”

As an early years teacher the phrase ‘ages and stages’ seems to be engrained in my mind, no matter how the curriculum document now words it. Carefully balancing the teaching and learning to address the many stages that each individual child is developing from and to. And as a parent I am reminded of some key advice given to me as a new mother… ‘every phase is a stage’.

Which leads me to my next thought, how does any parent ever survive the ‘Why? stage?’ How old was your child when this was their favourite question? Perhaps they are there now. Perhaps they have not reached it yet. Or, if you are lucky enough, it may be a distant memory! But when I really ponder this stage of development I am intrigued by why(!) this question becomes so important to so many children. Is it because they suddenly want justification for every action? Is it because their brain begins to make more connections? Is it because they have heard this question repeatedly from parents about their own behaviour? Whatever the reason, there is a definite period of time where a child is in the ‘why? stage’. The word passes their lips what feels like a thousand times a day.

However, as I watch our wonderful Woodlanders play and learn each day, it is my own mind that I find asking why questions. Why does every car and digger need to be emptied into that den? Why does it take six children to carry the smallest dinosaur at tidy up time? Why does this child take 30 minutes to eat half a sausage? Why when one child needs a tissue, does every child suddenly need a tissue? These are the mysterious, unanswered questions that run through my head as an adult, so just imagine in a world where there is infinite learning available, how many unspoken questions our children must have circling their ever-expanding minds. The number of questions they ask us must be a minimal amount compared with the questions that actually whizz through their little heads each day. So next time you or I hear ‘why?’ for the 100th time that hour, let’s take a breath, consider our response and answer with excitement and enthusiasm!