This blog series covers several ways to support high learning potential children during home learning by making it more challenging, increasing motivation or developing thinking skills. This blog is the third in the series of three and covers encouraging thinking skills.  You can find the other parts of the series at Part 1: Making Learning More Challenging and Part 2: Supporting Motivation.

Are you worried that your child finds their schoolwork too easy? Or that they are not motivated to try at tasks? Could this be a good opportunity for your child to learn at their own pace and to be motivated to learn deeply about something that they are interested in?

Some children need or prefer learning to be more challenging for them. Others are capable of accessing a higher level of challenge if they are steered in that direction. Home learning gives parents an opportunity to raise the level of challenge that their children have in their learning.

How to Encourage Thinking Skills

High potential learners love to have fun with thinking skills. Encouraging thinking skills also supports motivation and helps to make tasks more challenging, as well as increasing the enjoyment. Parents can join in with these as well! Critically, parents can probe thinking skills even further by asking more questions after the first one has been answered.

Below is a selection of quick and easy thought activities to get those brains going. For most of these, there are no right answers, just opportunities to think both in connected ways and outside of the box. All of these are better when the time limit is short, although some children may be stressed by an actual countdown. Reasoned answers are better than random thoughts, but all are welcome!

Plus, minus, interesting – Find something advantageous (Plus), disadvantageous (Minus) and thought-provoking (Interesting) about a statement or situation, to encourage your child to think about it from different angles.

  • Example 1: On the topic of Crime in the Geography curriculum – Can you think of something plus, minus and interesting about men under the age of 20 making up 10% of the prison population?
  • Example 2: On the topic of Units of Measurement in Maths – Can you find something plus, minus and interesting about there being 24 hours in a day?

What if…?  Ask one of these questions, changing something about the learning topic to encourage your child to think about it in a reasoned way from a different viewpoint.

  • Example 1: What if the people living in an area were responsible for reducing crime in that area?
  • Example 2: What if one country decided to change their unit of measurement for length?

Would you rather…?  Ask one of these questions about a topic to give it personal relevance to your child and to encourage them to think deeply.

  • Example 1: Would you rather be a judge or a member of the jury? Would you rather be responsible for catching criminals or preventing crime?
  • Example 2: Would you rather be a watch or a ruler? Would you rather be able to measure metres or kilometres?

What is the question?  By giving an answer and asking your child to come up with a question that could result in that answer, you will be encouraging your child to make connections between what they have learnt about the topic and their knowledge about the wider world.

  • Example 1: The answer is burglary. What is the question?
  • Example 2: The answer is degrees. What is the question?

Odd one out – Give four related options that could have various answers and ask which is the odd one out. This will mean that your child has to think creatively and from different angles to find different angles.

  • Example 1: Burglary, fraud, grievous bodily harm and drug offences. Which is the odd one out and why?
  • Example 2: Metres, minutes, grammes and pence. Which is the odd one out and why?

Thunks – Thunks are quick philosophical questions that encourage deep thought and personal response. There are lots of examples in this article: Thunks.

  • Example 1: Can someone deserve to have their human rights taken away?
  • Example 2: Is time finite or infinite?

Metaphors – Find a random household item and ask your child to say why the item is like an aspect of their learning, to let them run wild with divergent thinking.

  • Example 1: How is this teaspoon like the concept of designing a neighbourhood to prevent crime?
  • Example 2: How is this fan like the concept of having units of measurement?

To stretch the thinking even further, follow up with: Why do you say that? Let me hear your thought process. What else could the answer be? Which answer do you like best? Why?

If your family enjoys board games, this is a great way to develop thinking skills. Find out more in Developing Thinking Skills Through Board Games.