There is no question you’ve probably heard the mysterious phrase “critical thinking.” But what does it actually mean? To “think critically” is to carefully evaluate information and make a judgment based on reason and facts, rather than emotion, bias, or any other predisposition. This is easier than it sounds, but it takes practice to make critical thinking a habit. This process involves learning to consider alternative perspectives, recognizing one’s own biases, developing an eye for important details, and thinking outside-of-the-box to come up with creative solutions to problems. Critical thinking is an essential skill that is fundamental to your student’s success, particularly in high school. Understanding how to help your student develop critical thinking skills can support their success at every age. In this blog, we share four ways you can encourage your student to think more critically: 1) Encourage proactive, reflective thought. What does that look like? Well, reflective thinking means considering the broader context, meaning or implications of an action or experience. That does not mean simply jotting down what happened, but really understanding “why” it happened. One way your student can practice reflective thought is through critical reading habits. Have your student implement the following approach when reading: pause after each paragraph to assess the story’s main idea and how the paragraph contributes to the overall purpose of that text. This strategy can be applied to any kind of text. If your student is ready to take this practice to the next level, invite them to journal about their experience(s) and explore why they made certain choices. This can provide thoughtful insight and can help guide their decisions in a meaningful way. 2) Facilitate an active learning family discussion. Family dinners are a great opportunity to ask your student what they are studying. You can ask about a specific topic, whether it is challenging, and how your student thinks it is relevant to their own life. For example, if your student is learning about history, ask questions about why historical leaders made certain choices. Discuss how these choices impact our lives today, and what would change if these people had made a different choice. 3) Involve your students in family planning. Inviting your student to plan dinner, from start to finish (including the grocery shopping!), or planning your next vacation, can engage them in how to think critically about their own life. Not only will this keep them invested in what you are doing together as a family, but it will give them an opportunity to think about why they want to pursue a certain place for vacation or create a specific meal. The more your student participates in strategic planning that is relevant to them, the more they will be able to apply critical thinking to their own life. 4) Encourage your student to collaborate with peers. Working together with other students to complete a project can certainly be challenging, but will also provide your student with real-world, problem-solving skills. Coming together with others who may have varying personalities and abilities to solve a problem is a lifelong skill. This will help your student think critically about how to effectively collaborate with others to achieve a unified goal. This could be especially beneficial for full-time virtual students who are looking for more ways to engage with their peers. These students could seek out opportunities to get involved with others through a community college, local clubs, or volunteer organizations. How ALVS Can Help We hope that implementing some of these strategies will help your student to think more critically. ALVS digital curriculum can also help to build critical thinking skills that helps students to master their curriculum and also prepare them for the future. To learn more about our curriculum, visit: https://www.apexlearningvs.com/.