Don't Ask Your Child What They Did At School...

Don't Ask Your Child What They Did At School...

Instead ask them “did they ask any good questions today in class?” This promotes critical thinking skills.



Regional Director of the National Family Engagement Alliance and fellow Mom Congress Delegate (CT), Gwen Samuel posted this suggestion recently. Immediately, I saw the potential for a blog post!


What Exactly is Critical Thinking ?
It is beyond memorization. It is elevated thinking which involves logic and analysis. Sometimes referred to as higher order thinking, critical thinking encompasses knowing how to think.   Ask a fifth grader these days and they just might be able to explain metacognition- or thinking about your thinking to you.

Parents have a much easier time supporting their children’s study habits when it comes to practicing spelling words or helping kids memorize multiplication facts or state capitols.  But what can a parent or caregiver do to help build critical thinking skills?


How Can Parents Help their Child Become a Critical Thinker?
Here are helpful suggestions directly from Scholastic :

Ask open-ended questions.  Asking questions that don't have one right answer encourages children to respond creatively without being afraid of giving the wrong answer

Categorize and classify.  Classification plays an important role in critical thinking because it requires identification and sorting according to a rule, or set of rules, that kids must discover, understand, and apply. If you play classification games at home, be sure to follow up the activity with questions about the similarities and differences between the groups. You can sort everything from dirty laundry to Legos to produce to doll clothes to promote critical thinking.

• Work in groups.  In a group setting, students are exposed to the thought processes of their peers. Thus, they can begin to understand how others think and that there are multiple ways of approaching problems — not just one correct way.

• Make decisions.  Help your child consider pros and cons, but don't be afraid to let her make a wrong choice. Then evaluate the decision later. Ask your child, "How do you feel about your decision? What would you do differently next time?"

• Find patterns.  Whatever you're doing, whether it's going to the park or watching television, encourage your child to look for patterns or make connections for critcal thinking practice. For example, relate a favorite television show to a real-life situation. Or, while driving in the car, have your child identify different shapes in roads signs and in the windows and roofs of passing houses.

In an article by Elizabeth Shaunessy, PhD  (Department of Special Education and Coordinator of Gifted Education Programs of the University of South Florida),  she writes, "reasoning at high levels is one of the most valuable skills parents can foster in their children, one that will prepare them for success."

She suggests "parents can demonstrate critical thinking by pondering aloud the most efficient way to do household chores, considering the most economical purchase to make at the grocery store, monitoring your progress toward your personal goals, or approaching social issues in your community. Describing how you think and solve problems is the best way for you to instill similar thinking patterns in your children."

Why Teach Critical Thinking?

According to some educators, teaching critical thinking is more crucial than ever in this age of technology and the massive amounts of information available today.     Instead of being passive receptors of information, students need to be able to sift through it and not passively accept it.  Critical thinking skills will help students with complex problems they will face and the choices they need to make due to technological changes and the continued information explosion.

Basically critical thinking skills will be the skills that will help children all their lives.

How does your school teach critical thinking skills?  Do you have any ways you teach your children to think critically? Please feel free to comment, tweet, share, or contact me at






Leave a comment
  • Excellent suggestions!

  • My son is only starting preschool, but I will try to keep these in mind.

  • I am definitely going to try this because when I asked the dreaded question this morning, I got the dreaded, "Zero things. We did zero things at school."

  • fb_avatar

    My daughter asked me "Did I have any questions for her related to my "parent homework"... What was my homework u may ask;)

    Well I just finished my" parent homework" I filled out my childrens school "Emergency Contact" cards n triplicate, reviewed and accepted my chiilds & my " school contract" that outlined MY responsibility as a parent to ensure their success in school etc... I gave ALL ways for the school to contact me if there is a problem, question or concern...

    What I DID NOT see is what I can expect from the
    Principal & Teachers related to my childs success but no worries I have an " educator contract" for them to review thus ensuring WE ALL are on the same page, accepting the fact that we all will be held accountable to ensure the teacher/principal's and all childrens success;)

    PS. I also have a "home contract" for my kids to ensure they understand what is expected this school year;)

  • Thank you all for reading the post and commenting. I am interested in hearing how it goes for you - as you promote critical thinking skills with your own children. I am thinking this would be a great strategy to use with teens as well as they approach driving age. The parent think out loud strategy of how to predict and react to traffic and making good decisions on the road.

Leave a comment

  • ChicagoNow is full of win

    Welcome to ChicagoNow.

    Meet our bloggers,
    post comments, or
    pitch your blog idea.

  • Advertisement:
  • Meet The Blogger

    Lisa Stiegman

    My name is Lisa Stiegman and I have been a Chicago area resident all my life. Besides being the mother of three children, I have been a writer, editor, and teacher.

  • Recent Comments

    • fb_avatar
      Good Day Dear Loan Seeker, Do you need an urgent financial credit * Very fast and direct…
      Read the story | Reply to this comment
    • fb_avatar
      How I got My Loan From A God sent And Genuine Loan Lender... My name is Mrs…
      Read the story | Reply to this comment
    • fb_avatar
      That's pretty awesome post.. Assignment writing service in uk
      Read the story | Reply to this comment
    • fb_avatar
      Tutorchrome is a global marketplace for learning and teaching online where students are mastering new skills and achieving their goals…
      Read the story | Reply to this comment
    • Excitement and exploration for the children. This type of muesums and initiatives should be created more.
      Read the story | Reply to this comment
  • Monthly Archives

  • Tags

  • Latest on ChicagoNow

  • Advertisement: