Wherever I talk with believers about the importance of the life of the mind, I am inevitably asked one question: How can I help my children value their intellectual development (the life of the mind) and become more critical and discerning in their thinking?
The best way to help children grow intellectually, think “Christianly,” and develop genuine critical thinking skills is for us parents to model it for them. In a real sense, learning to value the life of the mind is something that is caught more than taught. More than anyone else, parents impact the life of their children.
When moms and dads model a genuine love for ideas and a deep value for truth, their children cannot help but be influenced by this love. When parents delight in learning, the children will as well—even if they initially seem to resist.
Three Tips for Parents
1. Use family mealtimes as an opportunity to discuss important ideas. Feed the body and the mind at the same time.
2. Combine entertainment with learning. For example, watch television programs and movies together as a family and then discuss various themes and ideas presented. Even TV can offer opportunities to model critical thinking.
3. Take family vacations that involve times of learning and discovery. Visit museums, art exhibits, or sites of historical or geological significance. Children remember these vacations for the rest of their lives.
Now that my three children are grown, my experience tells me that the things we daily model as parents can and do stay with our children for a lifetime.