Updated: Saturday, 25th January 2020 @ 8:25am

How are babies made? Just one of many questions Manchester parents struggle with from quizzical kids

How are babies made? Just one of many questions Manchester parents struggle with from quizzical kids

| By Becky Waterworth

Answering the dreaded question behind the birds and the bees is an unavoidable fate of parenthood, but for most Mancunians it is just one of three queries from their kids PER DAY they find hard to answer.

A new poll has found that mums and dads struggle to answer half of the questions posed to them by their children, whilst a quarter of parents may become liberal with the truth when answering philosophical queries.

However, experts explain that it is essential to encourage children’s inquisitive minds, as asking ‘why’ questions is a key factor in developing language skills and preparing children to read.

Speech and Language Therapist Kate Freeman said:  “Studies find that if children don’t have strong language skills at age five they can get left behind when they start school and struggle with learning to read. 

“That’s why it’s so important for adults to chat with children to help them develop the essential language skills needed to be ready to read when they enter the classroom.” 

The study, conducted by Read on. Get on. – a coalition of charities and teachers committed to encouraging literacy – claims that the average child asks three questions a day that their parents are unable to answer.

In response to the tricky questions posed by their children, nearly half of parents said that if they don’t know the answer they would take the time to look it up with their inquisitive companions. 

Whilst a quarter of those interviewed admitting to being creative with the truth, 8% say they are not very imaginative so do not make up stories with their children.

The survey findings show that many parents experience an upsurge of questioning during the summer holidays.

A total of 51% and 46% of parents respectively say that boredom and long car journeys are catalysts for their little ones’ imagination.  

Although some parents may be occasionally flummoxed by their child’s imagination, the majority of those who participated saw it as a source of amusement.

DJ and mum of two Lauren Laverne said: “I love the questions kids come up with.

“My eldest is fascinated by science – he always wanted to know what the moon is made of, how gravity works; he once had a tantrum when he was about two because I wouldn't ‘switch gravity off’.

“My youngest is very imaginative. He always asks ‘are we alive or is this a dream?’ – which is really above my paygrade, philosophically speaking…”

To help parents engage in conversations with young children, children’s publishers Ladybird and Read On. Get On. are launching a free nationwide giveaway of ‘story starters’.

These activities are aimed at helping families chat with their children to develop their linguistic skills, and the family bond.

Reading is one of the best routes out of poverty for the poor children and it is therefore crucial to give children every stepping stone possible to ensure capability at school.

The simple activities now being offered by Read On. Get On will help parents develop their kids’ literacy skills.

The Ladybird ‘story starters’ feature much loved children’s characters Peppa Pig, Ben & Holly and Topsy & Tim are available free from the Read On. Get On. website.

Read On. Get On. supporter, TV presenter and mum of two Kate Garraway, said: “My children ask questions all the time and I find it fascinating as they puzzle over things we adults don’t.

“Recently my six year old asked when we were out in a cafe ‘why do girls toilets have a picture of a person with a skirt on? Girls wear trousers all the time and in Scotland boys wear skirts.’

“That one I did know the answer to, but often I don’t, so it’s fun to look up the answers together on the internet which always gets a conversation going. 

“The Read On. Get On. story starters are another great way to start conversations with young children.”

To support Read On. Get On. Costa coffee shop will host a storytelling workshop in its Manchester Oxford Road venue on Friday August 21 from 2.30pm until 3.30pm. 

Parents and families from Manchester are invited to the one-hour session, with bestselling children's author Terry Deary, the man behind the Horrible Histories book series.

Terry will be giving hints and tips to parents to help them bring stories to life.

For more information on Read On. Get On. and to access the free Ladybird story starters, and links to lots of exciting resources to help develop children’s language and literacy skills, visit  www.readongeton.co.uk

Modified image courtesy of Personal Creations, with thanks.