|

Stretching Your Child's Brain Power

During the preschool period, one of the ways parents can support the development of their child's thinking is to point out the features of objects that a child might not spontaneously attend to. And although children ages three and four are usually quite capable of following a sequence of simple steps toward a goal, they can find it much harder to hold the bigger picture in mind and keep that end goal in sight. Reminding them of what they are trying to achieve and refreshing their memory about rules or principles that govern the task can be really useful. Having said this, several researchers believe that between the ages of three and five, most children become able to start reflecting on their experience and are therefore ready to start developing key skills such as predicting, checking results, self-monitoring, and reality testing.

To develop your own child's thinking skills following pointers may be helpful:

  • Do tasks that enable you to think together with your child. Make sure you are thinking out loud: "What do we need to do next?" "Is what we're doing now similar to any other problem we have solved in the past?" "Let's pause and consider how we're doing for a moment." "What are we trying to do here?" "Can we do anything to help us make better progress?"
  • Always start by helping your child recap what she already knows about a subject or problem so that she can make relevant links and connections and give the task a context. Mind maps are great for this.
  • Help your child formulate a plan that will enable him to reach the end goal in a series of productive steps. How will he tackle the task at hand? What obstacles might he encounter? How will he deal with them?
  • Foster the four key metacognitive skills: anticipate, check, monitor, and evaluate.
  • Help your child see why mastering a particular problem or skill is relevant to her life and how what she is learning ties in with what she already knows.
  • Always encourage your child to evaluate his own performance. What was hard about the task? What helped? What has he learned about approaching similar tasks in future?
  • As a general rule, ask questions to support or provoke your child's thinking instead of issuing directions or providing easy answers. Olympic medalist and coach David Hemery observes, "If our questions generate more of their awareness and selfresponsibility, the likely result is an increase in our young people's self-belief."
  • Encourage your child to talk to herself as she tackles a task so that she becomes more aware of her own thought processes.
  • Be careful not to prompt excessively. Children learn best when they can figure something out for themselves. If you are too quick with a helpful question or reminder, they will become reliant on you to do the thinking for them.
  • Persuade your child not to rush. Self-awareness, monitoring, and in-depth reflection cannot happen if your child is always in a hurry to get to the end. He is also much more likely to make careless mistakes. Model good habits and demonstrate that sometimes it is important to take your time if you really want to understand something properly.
  • Finally, always help your child to identify and explicitly label any principles, strategies, or rules that are aiding her performance during the task. This enables your child to build up a repertoire of problem-solving skills. Foster the mindset of French mathematician and philosopher René Descartes, who remarked, "Each problem that I solved became a rule which served afterward to solve other problems." Children often deduce and apply principles without being conscious that they are doing so, making them less likely to be able to use them in other situations.
|

From How Your Child Thinks Copyright © 2009, FT Press. Used by permission of FT Press, and Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

To order this book go to Amazon.


stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks

get ready for school!

We’ve got your
shopping list,
lunch menu,
and more.

GO

highlights

Join BIC on our mission to save handwriting and Fight For Your Write! Writing helps kids become better readers, boosts their confidence and sparks their creativity. Visit BICFightForYourWrite.com to sign our petition to save handwriting!

7 Tips for Reading Aloud to Babies & Toddlers
The AAP advises reading aloud to babies and toddlers because it boosts brain power and has many other benefits. Get some tips for making the most of story time with your tot!

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

How to Survive Summer Boredom
When the kids are home all day, every day, summer boredom strikes hard and fast. Learn the best summer boredom busters and tips for surviving until September.

12 Birthday Party Favors that Won't Get Thrown Away
The next time you're planning a birthday, forgo the penny candy and cheap toys. Send your guests home with one of these fun and creative party favor ideas!