Want kids who can solve problems on their own?  Essential questions are the answer.

Kids have come to rely heavily on parents and teachers to do their thinking for them.  They have become unwilling, or unable, to go beyond rote learning.

In the classroom, lesson plans and curriculum are now strongly influenced by 'essential questions.'  These questions engage students in evaluating, analyzing and applying knowledge to better understand, and function in, their world.  They encourage students to think critically, instead of simply looking up facts.

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I have taken the concept of essential questions and made it more personal.  Here are some questions that I consider to be 'essential' when faced with a challenging situation.  You can use them with your teen, tween or young adult to help them develop their problem-solving skills.

     * What is the problem/task/project?

     * What information do you already have?

     * What information do you need and where can you find it?

     * How can you break down the task into smaller, more manageable pieces?

     * If necessary, who can you ask for help?

     * When have you been in a similar situation, and how did you handle it?

     * What did you learn from that experience and how can you apply it to this one (or not)?

These are skills that we take for granted.  It's time to help your kids think for themselves.  Give them the tool of essential questions.