The Importance of Reflecting

and types of questions to ask while conducting a reflection

Experience is NOT the best teacher. If so, we’d all be getting better as we get older and many are not getting wiser. Why not? According to John Maxwell, author of The Five Levels of Leadership, it is because we are not reflecting on those experiences.

When we reflect on the experiences, the people we met, the thoughts we think about, the things we learn is when we gain wisdom. Reflection is more than thinking about a random thought or experience it is meditating, pondering, marinating on that experience. It is asking questions, listening for answers and asking more questions on the same subject. Pull out what is valuable and meditate some more.

If we spent time at the end of the day to reflect on one thing that we’ve learned or observed it will help us become a better person. This is a practice of most successful parents and homeschoolers. John sums it up beautifully, “Reflection turns experience into insight.”

If we spent time at the end of the day to reflect on one thing that we’ve learned or observed it will help us become a better person. This is a practice of most successful parents and homeschoolers. John sums it up beautifully, “Reflection turns experience into insight.”

When we conduct a reflection with our children we are teaching them the importance of reflecting and how to do it. Let’s have a reflection together by experiencing a lesson. I like following the EDGE method of teaching. Pretend with me you are sitting down with a teacher, ready to learn. While you are experiencing this moment (reading the next section) please pay attention to how you are reacting to this lesson and method. The teacher begins:

Explain – “I’m going to teach you a math lesson on how to create geometric shapes in a sequential order in the first two dimensions. You will will be the creator of these shapes and when you are finished you will have the three pillars of the plan!” [how are you feeling?] “What are we going to experience?”… “Yes, we are going to be drawing shapes for the numbers one, two, and three. Then I’ll tell you how they also tell the story of the Plan of Happiness.”
    Demonstrate – She draws a point, a circle, a line and another circle on the board. As she is drawing them she is explaining each shape and calls the two circles a “vesica pisces.” She then connects the upper point with the line and creates an equilateral triangle talking about the strength of a triangle. [are you getting it?]
    Guide – She then asks you to take out your paper, pencil, compass and straight edge. “Now follow after me, in the same manner that I drew these shapes you now draw them. Start with a point, open your compass and create a circle around that point. The point represents God, he opened up his compass and creates the Universe, meaning “one turn.” Now he has a place for all his children. The first thing he does is create a plan (line) for them all to return back to him. Draw the line from the center point to the circle using your straight edge. This new point represents you. Keeping your compass the same as before (same distance as the radius), draw a circle around the new point. This is your influence. Because the two circles share the same radius God’s influence will always be with you. With your straight edge connect the new upper point to the two on the line, creating an equilateral triangle. This represents Christ, who was lifted up and now shines light onto our path back to God. [did you do it? how are you feeling?] The circle represents the number one, God and the CREATION, the second point away from God represents the number two, you and the FALL. The third point is Christ, the number three and the ATONEMENT. These are the first three pillars of the of Plan of Happiness.” [Did she teach all of the explanation? What have you learned so far? How are you feeling now?]
    Enable – She asks you to draw them again, to practice using the compass and invites you to write down the numbers and their representations next to the drawings and to have you write down your thoughts about the Plan of Happiness.

Now let’s reflect on your experience with this lesson. When having a reflection you must first have a leader. The leader can be you or your child. They must know ahead of time that they will lead the discussion so they can be thinking of leading questions while going through the experience. Make sure you create a safe environment where all can feel comfortable to share their answers without judgment or snickering.

There are six types of questions to ask while conducting a Reflection, after an experience:

1. General Questions about the experience

  • What did you experience?
  • Have you learned this before? How was it similar?
  • Did you learn something new? How was it different from what you knew before?
  • What equipment or tools did you need?
  • Did they help with this experience? Could you have created this project without them?

2. Reaction Questions 

  • How did you react when she said, “Math lesson?”
  • What questions came up for you when I drew the shapes?
  • How did you react?
  • How did you respond inside?
  • What happened when you did it yourself? Did you gain understanding when you created this project yourself?

3. Personal Application Questions

  • What did you learn about your teaching style?
  • What did you learn about YOU?
  • What did you learn about learning styles?
  • What did you learn about your children?
  • How can you take what you learn here into your life? brother? sister? friends? family work? 
4. Action Questions. These can be rhetorical questions.
What will you do differently? What will you continue to do?How will your teaching will improve?How you responded to this lesson is how you respond to all new learning.

5. Recording Questions

  • What will you write down? or journal about?
  • Who will you brainstorm with?
  • How will you remember your experience? (Draw out lesson plans, paint, write music)

6. Rejoicing Questions

  • How will you memorialize (make permanent) your experience?
  • How will you show God your gratitude for this moment of enlightenment or inspiration?
  • Who will you report to when you act on your new thoughts?
  • How do you rejoice?

Become the best person you can by reflecting on your learning, homeschool teachings, the people you meet, the thoughts you are having in your head. Reflect back on what you just read. Make reflection a daily practice. 

About the Author Izaak Neil