Learning naturally processes through a series of stages as children’s brains mature. Although the boundaries of these stages are by no means rigid, distinctions do exist based on how children develop. So, what should you expect in each of these stages? How should the developmental process affect how we teach?

Learning to Reason

9th – 12th Grade

Before you know it, your preteen becomes a teenager and begins to see how the facts they learned in those exciting early years come together to form more than just an interesting web of connected events. In the reasoning stage, typically centered in the high school years, your blossoming student explores the why behind all of the information they have learned thus far.

It is during these years that your student will begin to question things they have always known. They  will try to establish their own foundation of beliefs and process why they think the way they do.

You can help your student learn to reason in several ways:

  • Discuss everything. Ask open-ended questions intended to make your student think. Encourage them to process their opinions about controversial issues before you share your own thoughts. Read and discuss books together. Discuss current events, ethical questions, politics, and more. Even something as simple as discussing the day can open doors for deeper reasoning.
  • Explain everything. During the early stages of life, it is common to provide information or instructions without explanations. The reasoning stage is the time to change that habit. Even if you cannot explain something in the moment, encourage your student to come back for an explanation later. This process strengthens your relationship and helps your student learn to make decisions on their own as they see the why behind your decision-making.
  • Explore contradictory thought and worldview. A single-minded focus will eventually be challenged. So, go ahead and challenge it now in the safety of these parent-guided reasoning years! Discuss and work through each thought and perspective, helping your student to come back to a solid belief that they can personally defend.

When your teaching methods coincide with the strengths of each learning stage, you strengthen your student’s enthusiasm for learning and equip them to learn well.