Super Starts Here.

How to Encourage your Child to be an Active Thinker

on January 13, 2013


It’s important to raise curious children. Our children will continue to be exposed to new technology and we want to make sure they are prepared yet still remain free-thinkers. Here are some tactics provided by computer scientist Jonathan Mugan’s book, The Curiosity Cycle: Preparing Your Child for the Ongoing Technological Explosion. We can use these tactics to  encourage our little ones to always have a desire to learn

1. Model active learning yourself: Be excited about new ideas. As Mugan advises, “Ask deep questions.” Turn your child’s question around — when he asks, “Why is the sky blue?” reply, “What do you think?” Don’t simply supply your child with facts, but bandy about ideas for a while, letting his creativity flourish.

2. Admit when you don’t know something
Make predictions, and brainstorm ideas for why things are the way they are. It’s okay to admit you don’t know something, or that something you thought true turns out to be wrong. Acknowledge your error and move on. Better still, discuss why you were mistaken.

4. Show rather than tell
When learning about punctuation, illustrate how commas and periods help us read a sentence aloud and understand its meaning. Show that the ideas we learn in school really matter in how we communicate with one another and understand the world.

5. Use props
Memorizing sequences like the multiplication table may come easier when the child actually understands what multiplication is. Draw out the big idea and make it clear for your child. For example, counting candy by twos or threes can help show your child how the concept of multiplication can be applied to real life.

6. Ask lots of questions of your child: questions that have specific answers
When your child wants something — blueberries, say — ask “How many?” Don’t give vague estimations like “We’ll go soon.” Be specific: “We’ll go in fifteen minutes.” Let this kind of statement lead to a discussion about telling time. There are countless opportunities during the day to transform your child’s wondering about the world into a quest to find a specific answer.

7. Break large tasks into smaller ones
Demonstrate how cleaning a room is in fact a series of tiny tasks: making the bed, straightening shelves, picking up dirty clothes, etc. If they’re daunted by putting away a huge pile of things, show your children how to take large groups of things like toys and organize them in piles of five or ten to estimate how many there are total — this can break down a bigger challenge into smaller, manageable tasks. Show your child that no question or problem is too big to tackle; it may just take time and tenacity.

8. Expose your child to technology, within limits
There are numerous kid-friendly apps for smart phones, and for the more tech-savvy, MIT’s created a kid-friendly programming language called Scratch that sharpens children’s ability to think in abstractions and reason logically. Also, try sitting with your child, and helping them use technology smartly — to discover new information, to play actively with programs is beneficial.

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