An essential part of parenting is teaching children how to think instead of what to think. This ability to think about our own thoughts is called metacognition, and it is something that develops across a person’s lifetime. For children, this generally begins as they transition from their initial egocentric thinking to that of being able to see from another person’s perspective. The next step is for them to realise that they can change their own line of thinking. For instance, whenever they get stuck on a problem and feel frustrated, they will need to look at it from different angles to find a solution.
Children will eventually have to be independent and find their place in the world, and metacognition is the key that lets them navigate and carve their own path. Thus, the capacity to change perspectives for the many problem-solving situations that await is an essential life skill to have. In fact, being adept at knowing how to get unstuck in various situations is vastly underrated despite being the catalyst that achieves true innovation—a highly-regarded trait that is not widely prioritised for development. Many just assume people are born with this innate ability or talent.
The truth is that through programs such as cognitive brain training in Singapore, parents can raise their children to be aware of their thinking and encourage them to engage in innovative thought and flexible thinking. By raising critical thinkers, they do not take things at face value, and when served with the truth, they will pose more questions than answers.
1. Ask for your child’s opinion when they ask how or why questions
As a general rule of thumb, ask your child what they think when they ask about the how or why of something and let them come up with their own ideas for how things work. However, do not just stop there and actually help them realise their hypotheses through hands-on projects or other ways to explore their ideas. To get started, a simple idea you can try out is to check whether something will float or sink. Fill a tub of water and may haps have your child choose which items they want to test out. Let them guess if an object will sink and ask them why they think that way, then proceed to test their theories and revise if necessary. All children go through the “why” phase, so do not waste the opportunity of prodding their curiosity by asking them the same question and why they think the way they do about anything.
2. Let them explore unaided (as much as possible)
As Jean Piaget once said, “When you teach a child something, you take away his chance of discovering it for himself.” As parents, it can be difficult not to step in when your child struggles with something. However, being there for them for the little things means they will expect you to do the same for the important stuff as well. However, this does not necessarily mean parents should omit to help whatsoever; if their child asks for help, it is better to guide them on their next step only, not do the rest of the work. This philosophy applies to everyday occurrences like opening a food packaging to doing math homework.
3. Encourage different ways of thinking
Whenever your child gets stuck on a problem, it is best to also get them to entertain other different ways of tackling the issue. For instance, when building with blocks, a child may have problems making it stable enough not to topple over easily. Parents could prod them to think about which block would make for a better foundation—a vertical standing block or a horizontal and flatter block. By asking these guiding questions, children can adopt the habit of thinking critically about every situation they encounter.
4. Introduce books about problem-solving, thinking, making mistakes, and perseverance
Books are a great way to unlock the window to metacognition, as literature that shows what characters are thinking or how they go over their problem-solving process can make an impression on your little one. They help prevent the potential influence of schooling wherein they believe that conformity is the rule and there is only one correct answer, only to find out that in real life, that is hardly the case, and sometimes there may be no right answer at all. Exposing children to books that give different messages regarding thinking is crucial to counteract the pressure of conformity, perfection, and settling for a single “correct” answer.
Given the many obstacles life has in store for everyone, it is only important to ensure our children are well prepared to face and overcome them in their own journey. By getting started as soon as possible to develop their metacognition, our little ones can be one step ahead of their peers in academics and the real world.
If you need help developing your child’s critical thinking skills, consider signing them up for cognitive brain training in Singapore today. At The Brain Academia, we use an outcome-oriented approach to developing your child’s critical thinking and other skills vital to succeeding in school and life. Whether you opt for our English language enrichment or Math enrichment program in Singapore, you can rest assured that your child’s development is in good hands.
If you would like to learn more about our services, teams, and ways in which we can assist your child’s learning development, simply fill up this contact form to get in touch with us today.