Students who work a practice book before a test do in fact score better on the test. They play that game to score as well as they can. But does it make them better thinkers in life? Not really. In one customer testimonial a parent wrote that her child scored well after using the curriculum. Then the following year his test score fell, so the third year she wanted him to use a thinking book again. This illustrates how poorly the skills transfer, as well as the artificial nature of this kind of testing. If the student had transferred the skills into life and into schools subjects, he would indeed have been a better thinker a year later at test time. This indicates that thinking does not work well as a separate subject. Students should practice thinking in every subject and in family life, too. We are preparing children for life, not for tests.
Dr. Ruth Beechick, A Biblical Home Education
Homeschooling allows us to provide an environment that encourages real learning and thinking. Here are five ways you can encourage your children to become better thinkers:
- Read. Our natural tendency seems to be to read for entertainment. This type of passive reading has its place, but we also need to read to think. We can encourage our children to read things slightly above their level, learn new words, grasp the meaning of what is written, and agree or disagree with the premise. If I interact with what I am reading in some way, what I read will have more staying power.
- Write. Thinkers are not only usually readers, but also writers. Writing continues the process of interacting with what we read. We write to remember, to organize our thoughts, to play with others’ words. Re-writing what another has written broadens my understanding, commits words to memory, and helps me develop my mind.
- Discuss. Oh the conversations we will have! But it takes patience to listen attentively to what is on the mind of each child. By discussing what I have read, I not only interact further with the reading, but I also organize my thoughts and convey my understanding of what I have read. I have a chance to listen to other viewpoints on the subject and see how they compare and contrast with my own.
- Investigate. Everyone has an interest in something. By following these interests through we develop our ability to research, reason, and relate what we have learned to others. By tapping into this delight in a topic, the motivation from within spurs our child on to a broader understanding, and not just of the topic at hand. The skills he develops in the process will carry over into other disciplines as well.
- Observe. All subjects are interrelated. If I am learning about a situation in Afghanistan, I am not simply relying on my knowledge of geography, but also of history and politics. Nothing happens in a vacuum. We can provide our children with time to observe the news, the weather, nature, or the way things work. An observer is a thinker.
One final thought. As a Christian, I want my children to measure their activity in each of these areas by Scripture. Since God’s Word is truth, that is the plumb line in our home. Measuring another’s words against my own thoughts is an exercise in futility. But measuring another’s words by Scripture is taking every thought captive.