How to Encourage Your Student to Think Deeper

4 min to read
How to Encourage Your Student to Think Deeper

As a parent, you may occasionally struggle to have an in-depth conversation with your child. You might have gotten a simple one-word "good" or "bad" response when you asked about his or her day—or the dreaded "fine."

It's understandably a bit frustrating at times, but the good news is that you can get your student talking more by simply changing your approach! Asking more meaningful and specific questions can help keep the conversation going, enhancing your student's communication skills while also motivating him or her to think deeper.

The Importance of Deep Thinking

So what's significant about thinking deeper? Helping students to think deeper will benefit both their current life and future life. When students are stimulated to think deeper, they are more likely to:

Thinking more deeply is valuable for students of all ages. In fact, the more kids practice now, the more prepared they will be to tackle more complex circumstances and questions in the future.

Below are some deeper thinking questions that you can ask your student throughout the day, even while you're out running errands!

Recall Questions

Consider starting out with recall questions to ease your way into a deeper conversation. Recall questions are questions that a student can typically answer quickly without having to think about it too much, either because the response has been memorized or because it can be found easily in a textbook. Here are a few examples of recall questions that are particularly helpful for language arts and math practice:

  • How did Harry Potter get his scar?
  • What happened to the person playing Pokémon Go?
  • What is 3 × 2?
  • What is the y-intercept of the line?

After you've asked a simple recall question, try asking a more specific follow-up question like the ones below. Asking follow-up questions will help your student to draw a unique conclusion by thinking outside of the box and digging a bit deeper, and to better synthesize information.

  • How might Harry Potter's life be different if he didn't have a scar? Why do you think so?
  • How can people play Pokémon Go safely? What similar things might people be doing that could lead to danger?

The question may not be easy for your student to answer, so it's important to provide plenty of encouragement and support. You can say something such as, "Let's think about this together," to avoid frustration or defeat.

Dinner Table Questions

Dinner is a great time to have a thought-provoking conversation with your child—and the tasty food should encourage him or her to open up (pun intended)! Take a look at these learning-day-focused questions to help get the conversation started:

  • What did you learn today that surprised you?
  • What did you do that made you proud?
  • How did you feel about today's lesson? What did you not like?
  • What was your favorite/toughest part of the day?
  • Did you experience any challenges today?
  • What are you working on in math (or science, English, etc.) right now?

Whether you work closely with your student or your student works more independently, it's always worthwhile to have a conversation about the learning day.

Real-World Questions

Take advantage of any opportunity to ask questions! Ask your child questions while doing things like watching TV or movies, discussing books or articles, shopping, taking a drive, and eating at a restaurant. You'll be surprised by the insightful conversations that you can have in a public setting. Here are some examples of real-world questions:

  • At a restaurant: If restaurants charged by the ounce instead of by the item, would it change the way we order?
  • At a grocery store: What would happen if the price was different?
  • While observing the décor/scenery: Can you predict the next piece of the pattern?
  • While driving: Why do you think there are so many billboards? What purpose do they serve?

Make sure to ask the golden question after your student responds: "How do you know?" Regardless of the situation, challenging him or her to explain the answer and thought process is the key to deeper thinking. If you get an endearing but passive response such as, "Because my brain told me," continue to nudge by asking, "I wonder what your brain noticed. What do you think?" Where there's a will, there's a way!

It may take some time, but you can help your student think deeper by actively asking more reflective questions, providing reassurance when the answer doesn't come easily, and focusing on how he or she arrived at the answer, rather than the answer itself. Connections Academy families have the option of watching interactive growth mind-set videos on Learning Coach Central, in the Instructional Support tab under Resources, for deeper thinking inspiration.

What are some questions that you ask to get your student thinking deeper? 

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