I think that everyone, at some point in time has thought, what do babies think? Do they think at all? I don’t know. We see that they respond to external stimuli (the voluntary kind). As babies grow up into young children, their vocabulary increases. That’s when reasoning or thinking takes on a dialog in the mind. As they get older still, analytical skills also begin to develop.
Now in the real world, how your child thinks can make a huge difference in his output and independence. We can greatly contribute towards both these critical skills sitting at home with zero investement. Here are a few tips you need to start doing now.
1. Reflection: Teaching kids to reflect on mundane and ordinary things can open gateways in the brain that would otherwise remain closed forever. Talk about the simple things, like the colours in the sunset, ask kids to close their eyes and describe the sounds around them, tell them to really describe the taste of their favourite ice-cream, or why it is that they love that shirt over the tonnes of others. It will truly make an enormous difference.
2. Thinking Aloud: You as parents, or teachers should make it a habit to think out aloud at times. Use rich vocabulary (it’s never to late for us adults to keep learning ourselves). The more vocabulary your child has to work with, the more vividly he will be able to put his thoughts into coherent sentences. This makes children aware of what they are thinking which is also called meta-cognition. It’s all the rage these days and has been linked to higher success and happiness levels.
3.Flow Chart Process: Obviously, one important end game of thinking is to come to some sort of an informed decision. This skill is present in everybody, but we can hone in on it to become more effective. This involves teaching kids how to declutter their brains of useless thoughts and stick to the issue at hand. I like to call it the Flow Chart Process. It goes like this:
What is the trouble exactly?
What do I want that will satisfy me?
Now that the issue has been identified and the the goal decided upon….
How can I make this happen? What is in my control and what isn’t? Should I seek help? What will I require to make it happen?
This line of thinking can be used each time any troubling situation comes up. If this seemingly simple skill is refined within kids, imagine to what lengths they can go in the ‘real world’.
4. Choice and Consequence: Here is what I have noticed in the children I have interacted with over the years, most will have great difficulty in owning up to something that was their fault. I can not stress enough the importance in inculcating the ability in a child to face the consequences of his or her actions. This alone will build character and resilience in them. Set consequences for actions, often with their help. Make them clear, age appropriate and time-sensitive. See the difference in their behavior as well (bonus). Sadly most of us parents don’t work positively to achieve this goal. The result if often spoiled and egoistical young adults.
5. Connecting: From a very young age we must teach children to respect the point of views with others. This is not synonymous with accepting these views, but everyone is entitled to their perceptions. So many conflicts can be avoided if this is taught to our kids. It then goes to reason that if children master this skill, they can be taught to reason about how to settle any disputes in the most effective, non evasive manner. So the more you expose them to different people, different cultures even different languages, I mean there is a universe out there to explore. the more the child will gain reasoning, comparison and thinking skills.
6. Praise with a Twist: There’s no doubt that praise and appreciation is to the brain as food is to the brawn. Only old school is out dated. There is a better and more productive way to do it which will result in motivation for the child to do better which would require him to develop more thinking skills. I came across this great poster and fell in love with it-
Learning should not be our primary objective when it comes to giving kids a good education. Putting all the learning to practical use (hence thinking, critical and analytical skills) is what will makes the ultimate difference.
I hope this has been helpful. Drop a comment below.