The term “Critical thinking skills” is often part of many academic conversations because having and using this particular set of skills can produce ideas and thought structures which are sturdy and reliable. While there is no definitive list of skills or abilities which will guarantee cognitive success, there are a number of elements that can be part of the category called “Critical thinking skills.” A short list we have found helpful includes the ability to analyze, discern, infer, reason, interpret, and generate. When working with the student in your life, a powerful way to engage is to ask questions which jumpstart critical thinking in the area of analysis. In looking at analyzing something, “How” and “Why” questions are helpful in that they explore how to reach conclusions by breaking down the whole into its parts. Often, 4-5 year olds are experts at asking “Why” questions. While many adults may lose their patience with a plethora of “Why” questions, young children who ask, “Why” are taking their first steps into the world of critical thinking skills. As the student in your life matures, begin to ask “How” questions. These questions encourage looking at the process of how something gets accomplished or done. To add a bit of unpredictability to your conversations with the student in your life, ask “Why” questions when you would normally ask “How.” Instead of asking, “How was school today?” Ask- “Why was school interesting today?” In our next blog, we will build on asking questions that shake up predictable trains of thought. Until our next blog, happy engagement with the student in your life.