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September 18, 2017

Raising and Teaching Smart, Able, and Resilient Adults: Team Horizon

Editor’s Note: Jennifer Kahler is the Assistant Principal of Glenallen Elementary School and a Mind in the Making Facilitator.

As parents and educators, one of our many goals for our children is to raise and teach smart, able, and resilient adults.  Speaking from personal experience as well as those experiences shared by the participants of Team Horizon, one of the biggest challenges is fighting the urge to come in for the “save” when our children are struggling.  With the most loving and best of intentions, we often find ourselves wanting to help, wanting to fix, wanting to solve the problems facing our children – wanting to make things easy.  It often pains us to see them struggling prompting us to rescue them.

“Critical thinking,” says Mind in The Making author, Ellen Galinsky, “is the search for valid and reliable information and that’s important because the information that we have, the way we see the world, guides not only what we think, but what we do.”

Collectively, our cohort came up with the following suggestions to promote critical thinking that parents, caregivers, and educators can implement:

  • Expose children to as many experiences as possible. You never know what interests they may spark, what they can learn, or what connections they may make in the future.
  • Model critical thinking – talk through your problem-solving strategies along with your children. If you run out of an ingredient when following a recipe, include your child in figuring out what to do.  If the plants in your garden aren’t growing, discuss with your child why this is happening as well as what could be changed to allow them to grow.
  • Promote curiosity – when kids are wondering about how something works, encourage them to seek out experts or resources to answer the questions they may have.
  • Allow children to struggle. Many participants shared their greatest personal growth resulted from their most significant struggles.
  • Allow opportunities and create experiments to test cause and effect. Ask questions such as, “What do you think will happen if you do this?” or “Why do you think….?”

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