My daughter is only 3, and, let’s be honest, I don’t have to “teach” her to challenge me. She kinda just knows how to do it on her own.
Unfortunately for me, she has the attitude of her mother. And I love her for it. Because, while they say she looks like my husbands side of the family, at least she’s got the important things from me! :D
But back to the point.
I home school my daughters pre-school. And like many students, when she learns the basics of something new, she thinks she knows it ALL!
For example, yesterday my daughter and I were going over all of the words that start with the letter J. She listed Jaguar, jellyfish, jelly bean, January, and Jesus. Then she said Kangaroo, so I explained that Kangaroo starts with a K and not a J.
She then told me, “No mommy, it starts with a J".”
We then go back and forth about who is right, and which letter Kangaroo actually starts with. And my first thought was: Another typical conversation in the life with a 3 year old.
Most all of you parents remember this stage, and can relate. :D
But my second reaction made me realize that this trait will take her far in life. And this trait is actually what I encourage all my students to do!
(For those who don’t know me - Hi there! I’m a personal tutor for teens struggling in school. I help teens learn how to achieve academic success on their own, without the need of a pricey tutor).
My daughter challenging me reminded me of all the times I challenged my teachers in school. (Hopefully, in the most respectful way).
On one occasion, I asked my teacher about a math problem she said I got wrong. We went over it together and I pointed out that she did the math incorrectly. We went back and forth about it for over 30 minutes. She finally was SO MAD, that she screamed “Rachael, what do you want??”. I told her I wanted a 100% on the problem. She replied, “Done”, and wrote a big “100” across the top of the paper.
To this day, I still think she solved the problem incorrectly.
This is the type of questioning I want my daughter to have! Where you are not afraid to ASK questions to find out the answer, even if you are wrong, or even if you have to prove that the other person is wrong.
Here is why I encourage all my students to Challenge their teachers:
(and by challenge, I mean challenge the status quo, and question why something is correct or incorrect in order to LEARN)
Teachers can be wrong
This is not to hate on teachers, because many teachers are really amazing. BUT, teachers are only human, and they make mistakes just like any body else.
Your child should learn to challenge the status quo, and not take something as fact, or as black-and-white, just because a teachers says it’s so.
By questioning the teacher, your child may help clarify a misunderstanding, or a misstatement from a teacher.
You may be wrong
If your teen questions a teacher about a concept, and they are totally wrong, it shows the teacher that your child doesn’t fully understand the concept, but WANTS to learn. It shows that your child is interested in learning correctly, and is interested in improving their own education.
It most instances, teachers would be more than willing to take the time to work with your child and help them to fully understand. Which is still a win for your child!
By asking questions, your child will learn to ask WHY. Why is this problem solved this way. Why is this the answer. Why am I having trouble understanding this.
By learning to ask why, your child will not only understand better, but will help with long term memory retention. Asking Why is also a skill they will use life long for future learning!
Knowing that my child asks questions and is interested in learning makes me confident that she will love learning just as much as her mommy! Because enjoying the process of learning is half the battle! :D
Hey there! My name is Rachael and I have been a private tutor for over 10 years. I earned my undergraduate degree in 2 and a half years and earned my graduate degree by age 22. I have tutored dozens of high school students, college students, and graduate students. I offer my resources and experience to help parents learn how to best help their teen or child that is struggling in school.