Keep the Conversation Going; Ask Your Child Fewer Questions During Playtime

Text bubble pointing to Monkey Block that reads: "Instead of: "What sound does the Monkey make?" Try: "The Monkey goes 'ooh ooh, aah ahh!'""

As a parent, I’m always looking for ways to enrich my little one’s development, especially when it comes to communication. That’s why I was shocked to learn that I could accomplish this by asking her fewer questions during playtime. Instinctively, I often try to turn playtime into a quiz, but a handy guide from the City of Toronto says that maybe I should rethink this instinct in order to better help her speech and language development.

If you’re short on time, here’s the relevant excerpt from the guide:


Comment ... Avoid Asking Questions
We often ask too many questions and this stops conversation instead of keeping it going. Try to:
  • Ask fewer questions
  • Turn a question into a comment
    • Instead of asking a question, talk about what you or your child is doing.
    • Instead of asking: “Is this car going up?” You could say: “Car goes up.”
Label new words instead of testing whether your child knows the word 
  • Instead of asking: “What’s that?” or “Say apple?” You could say: “Look, apple, yummy apple.”
  • Only ask questions when you really need to find out information. (E.g. “Where are mommy’s keys?”)
  • Using too many questions provides fewer opportunities for your child to imitate words.


After reading this, I thought about times I’ve played with my 3-year-old and how I could use this newfound knowledge in the future with her and the new little one we have on the way.

An improvised game that we often play is going through each of the animals on these Spanish Uncle Goose Blocks and I ask for example: “What sound does the Monkey make?”

Armed with my new knowledge, I’ll be sure to have a little more fun next time and say, “the monkey goes ‘ooh ooh, ahh ahh!!’”, scratch my armpits and keep the fun and conversation going with my little ones!

Don’t get me wrong. I think asking questions still have a place in playtime and in communication in general. After reading the City of Toronto’s guide however, I think I’ll mostly ask questions when my little one’s are ready, confident, have an answer and can keep the conversation going 😊




The City of Toronto’s guide quoted above is available in several different languages at the following links:


Simplified Chinese

Traditional Chinese








தமிழ் 


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