Why don’t bananas have seeds? Why do grownups have to work so much? Why do my toes and fingers get wrinkled in the bathtub?

If it seems like your child asks you “Why?” all the time, there’s a good reason. At this age, learning comes naturally. Kids are excited and curious to know how the world works and why things are the way they are.

So as a parent, you don’t really need to do anything to make your kindergartner want to learn. (You just have to try to answer all of those questions!) But giving the right words of encouragement can make a big difference to your growing learner. Here are some ways to give your child the needed words of support at just the right moment.

  1. Point to the positive

    You’re watching your daughter jump rope, and she gets through three turns before stepping on the rope. To encourage her to keep trying:

    Instead of saying: “You keep missing because you aren’t jumping high enough.”
    Try this: “Wow! You got three jumps! Want to see if you can do four now?”

  2. Let learning be the reward

    To get your kindergartner to read more books, you don’t need to offer a reward. Reading — whether it’s you reading to your child or your child reading on her own — is exciting for kids who are just learning. When you sit down to read with your son:

    Instead of saying: “If you let me read this book to you, I’ll give you a cookie.”
    Try this: “Let’s read this book together. I think you’ll like it since it’s about astronauts. If you like this one, maybe we can find another book about outer space.”

  3. Share your world

    Your child wants to know what you think about all the things she’s seeing, hearing, and learning. If she asks, “What is that TV show you’re watching?”:

    Instead of saying: “Oh, you wouldn’t understand it.”
    Try this: “It’s the story of some people who came to this country a long time ago.” (Or another simple way to explain the plot.) If your child asks more questions, give her even more details.

  4. Put it in perspective

    If your son is having a hard time reading a book and wants to quit:

    Instead of saying: “I know reading can be hard, but you just have to do. Your teacher said so.”
    Try this: “Sometimes reading a book can be hard because we don’t know all the words. Let’s read it together. Show me the words you don’t understand, and I’ll tell you what they mean.”

  5. Let them do the asking

    If your child is asking you questions you don’t know the answer to:

    Instead of saying: “I don’t know. You’re driving me crazy with all your questions!”
    Try this: “I’m not really sure. Why do you think our toes and fingers get wrinkled in the bathtub?” (Hint: Google is a parent’s best friend for finding an answer to almost any question.)

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