When we think of how children learn, we often associate it with giving them new information. I would challenge that and say that often the best learning comes from being questioned. This is a method that really works for home educated children.
Asking the right questions to spark critical thinking is one of the most effective techniques we can use as parents and teachers. Paul’s (1992) Elements of Reasoning is a model for critical thinking that suggests that for persons to reason through a situation they must:
⭐️ determine points of view
⭐️ make inferences based on given information
⭐️ make judgments about a given situation to determine implications and consequences
⭐️determine conceptual relevance or main ideas
We can capitalise on this model to have conversations with our children about the books they are reading, creating an environment which fosters the process of exploring and questioning over “right” answers.
Critical reading questions include:
❓How does this text relate to my personal experience and does it affect the way I respond to the text?
❓What point of view does the author write from and why did they chose this?
❓What is the author’s position on any relevant theme or issue?
❓What were the (significant) characters motivated by?
Validating the responses that children give, helping them to explore their ideas and challenging their pre-conceptions all allow them to move from conceptual to critical thinking. You can do this in any subject or area of interest, but books and reading are the easiest jumping off point to try this out.