Are we Teaching our Children to Think in the Early Years? 

Recently I attended a education conference where the following topic kept coming up ‘Are we teaching our children to think?’

In a presentation by Yong Zhou a Professor in the School of Education, University of Kansas, mentioned

“Singapore results for education is the number one system around the world according  to their results with the standard assessments. The system has shown Singapore education system teaches them how to solve a problem, however does it teach them to see a problem?”

Young Zhou believes the Singaporean education system is taught to follow a learnt process to solve a problem. Which is one area of learning, however being able to identify issues before they are there or even to solve the problem requires a much more in-depth thought pattens.  So the question remains in the no one system according to standard assessments teaching children how to think, see a problem or answer a question?

Lets teach our children to think in the early years, here are a 6  ways we can encourage children to think;

1. Choices – It maybe as simple as choosing their own clothes (even if they don’t match) deciding on what to spend their pocket money on, choosing from the menu, choosing a sport, books. Explain your reasons for a good choice, why certain activities is a bad choice.

2. Allow them to explore, take a few risks (within reason). Do they want to make their own slime, play with water, climb trees, build forts at the beach, make up their own games at the park and many more activities.

3. Experiment, talk to them about things to solve for e.g. Plant tomatoes in 4 areas around your garden near shade, sunlight, each area looking a little different. Then experiment why did it grow here and not there?  What can we do differently, take them grocery shopping, look at why we pack the trolley, why do we choose certain foods.

5. Listen to them when they are trying to explain to you the difference between a pokemon go character or the new sport they played, books they have. Try to engage with them with their interests. Ask open ended questions so they have to explain to you the different concepts to you, allow them to tell you a story.

6. Experiences or opportunities, try different activities, allow them to find their passion. What do they love doing?  Take them to the local market, supermarkets keep an open mind about the culture around them, show all the different food from around the world.

Last of all, spend time with your children, engage them into your interests or even things you use to do as a child.  In life sometimes we become to busy to listen, then just make decisions for our children. If we teach children how to think we are teaching them how to be world ready leaders.

Good reads on teaching children to think;

We are teachers – 10 tips for teaching kids to become awesome critical thinkers 

Teach hub – Teaching Strategies to Promote Critical Thinking

Teach your child how to think – Edward De Bono 

For more articles on early years development go to

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