My favorite question to ask learners is “What’s your plan?”
This question in its most basic form is designed to help learners stop and think, but in its simplicity it opens up the door for all kinds of dialogue.
- If someone is doing something unsafe, it causes them to stop to think, and usually they figure out what it is right away, for example, “What’s your plan with that big stick?” You don’t have to say, “That you are swinging wildly near your friend’s head!” because the young person by that point has usually noticed.
- It also elicits an actual plan of action. For example: “Oh, my plan with this big stick is to build a fort, and I need to go find some other things to do that, where should I look?”
- With older learners, it comes in handy when someone is frustrated with something. For example, “Well, my plan was to take this rubber band and use it to make the car run, but I can’t get it to wind,” “Oh, cool! What isn’t working?”
- And if someone isn’t doing anything, “What’s your plan?” gets them to tell you if they’re stuck, or if there is something the matter.