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Active Thinking Begins at Home

nea_logo.gifBrought to you by the National Education Association

By Marcia Heiman and Joshua Slomianko

If a child is an active participant in a home where there is talk about the why and the how of things, she is more likely to be an active thinker both in and out of school. Here are some simple things you can do to get those mental wheels turning!

  • Encourage your children to ask questions about the world around them.

  • When reading to or with young children, ask them to imagine what will happen next in the story.

  • Actively listen to your children's conversation, responding seriously and non-judgmentally to the questions they raise.

  • When your children express feelings, ask why they feel that way.

  • Suggest that your children find facts to support their opinions, and then encourage them to locate information relevant to their opinions.

  • Use entertainment -- a TV program or a movie -- as the basis of family discussions.

  • Use daily activities as occasions for learning. For example, instead of sending a child to the store with a simple list of items to purchase, talk with the child first about how much each item might cost, how much all the items might cost, how much all the items might add up to, and estimate how much change s/he should receive.

  • Reward your children for inquisitive and/or creative activity that is productive.

  • Ask your children what questions their teachers are raising in class. For example, a history class might be "asking" how American westward expansion began.
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