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Getting a child to answer questions

(5 Posts)
BrittaPerry Wed 26-Sep-12 18:17:06

Dd1 is five and in year one, but this has been an issue from her being tiny.

Whenever anyone asks her a direct question, she just looks completely blank and says she doesn't know. It is often possible to 'trick' the answer out of her (eg if she is saying she doesn't know a song, I sing it wrong and she corrects me, then sings it all right, or she will add up coins when playing shops, but not if you ask her 'what is 2p plus 2p?' - she even does the same kind of work better if she is just pretending to be someone else) so she does know the answers.

However, school can't be expected to coax answers out of her all the time, so how can I help her?

Euphemia Wed 26-Sep-12 19:21:17

What have her teachers said? They will be skilled in questioning so that they get an answer from her - have they commented?

Ferguson Wed 26-Sep-12 20:06:11

Hi - exTA (male) here :

Children are often reluctant to answer questions, and some won't answer to their name when register is called.

Does she 'look blank' because she doesn't understand the question? Is her hearing OK? (she can't answer confidently if she can't hear the question properly!)

Are there other siblings? But if she has been like it from quite a young age, could something have happened that upset 'her world' - a house-move; a new adult partner; loss of a relative, or pet? Things that seem totally trivial to an adult might seem traumatic to a child.

A Reception girl in a school I worked in, would not go into the playground at playtime. A classroom door opened straight onto the playground, but she stood on the threshold, watching the other children running around, which she probably saw as really scary! I felt sorry for her, and although I did not work in her class, I asked her teacher if I could try to help. There were posts holding up a roof, for parents to shelter under at home-time, and I asked the girl, if I helped her get to a post, did she think she could hold on to it, so she was still safe but was in the playground. She nodded, so I led her to the post. Gradually I weaned her off her fears, until she could cope with playtime. What I didn't know at the time was that mother had tried to get her to attend nursery, a year earlier, but the child had got so distressed mother had given up.

Sorry about all that ramble, but I hope it illustrates how children can be afraid for no logical reason.

Many teachers don't have the time to 'nurse' kids through their anxieties, but expect them to 'tough it out'.

This hasn't answered your question as to how you can 'help', but as a starting point if you can discover WHY she is like it, maybe that can lead to 'cure'.

If I can help further, feel free to send me a PM.

Good Luck !

BrittaPerry Wed 26-Sep-12 22:48:09

In reception, she managed o hide that she could read till halfway through the year. The report said 'dd1 is doing really well at learning some of the phonic sounds and knows how to look at tge pictures and turn the pages of a book', and it turned out tha the teacher had seen her reading, but presumed she was just looking at the pictures, becuse dd1 wasn't nswering questions when asked. The teacher had to 'spy' on dd to see wht she could do, then put her and another child in a separate grop for guided reading, and suddenly dd was the top of the class. It was the same with numeracy. The teacher said they were wirking with dd to give her clear tasks in small grops - she puts herself at just above average in any group, so in the lower groups she looks like she fits there
But then she fits the higher groups too, if she can be peruaded to answer the questions.

She gets really upset if she gets smething wrong, or indeed if anyone else gets omething wrong, could it be that?

Her five years of life have seen six houses, me being seriously mentally ill and in an out f hospital, me being unable to walk for a while, her uncle dying of cancer, periods of great skintness, a move across the country, a new baby sister who is now a oisterous toddler, and god knows what else. She only stopped needing a nappy at night last Chrismas, and still regulary wets herself.

However, she is making friends now (finally!) so maybe that will help?

Rotkehlchen Thu 27-Sep-12 10:48:49

I think it will help that she is making friends.

She sounds very similar to my daughter - refusal to answer direct questions, frozen expression, perfectionist tendencies. Does she speak freely at other times at school and home? The reason I ask is that my daughter has selective mutism and I wonder whether she feels unable to speak for some reason or that she is afraid to give a wrong answer.

I would speak to her teachers. It might be that they haven't noticed as many children are shy and teachers are skilled at dealing with shy children. However, if you feel it is something that is affecting her performance at school, I think that the teachers would appreciate you voicing your concerns.

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