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The Secrets to Raising a Smarter Child
- By Inderbir Sandhu, Ph.D


Tips to Develop Thinking Skills for Your Kids

By Andrew Loh

The extensive use of critical thinking is perhaps the most valuable skills that we can teach our kids. Gifted children have the habit of making rapid progress and they always use the power of synthesis and evaluation to learn things without any proper teaching or training. It is imperative that you support and nurture the ability to think and act in a responsible manner. Thinking skills are mandatory to the development of very robust and strong academic and life's problem solving skill sets.

Tip: When you are trying to teach your kid how to think and act, make the learning environment as exciting and interesting as possible. Let the environment be a playground for your kid. Have fun while teaching and make learning session interactive by including games, toys and play sets.

Here are some practical tips to develop thinking skills for kids:

1. Encourage questions from your kids: Nothing may success unless you ask your kids open ended and easy going questions. Urge and cajole your kid to ask returning questions to you. Never ask a barrage of questions. Let them answer what they know and how they understand the perspective of a given situation.

Sample scenarios:

  • Tell me what happens when a hen lays eggs?

  • Come on sweetie! Let us water this plant. What happens when you water this plant? Is it good for the plant or not?

  • What is the picture? Can you draw it for me?

  • Please tell me more about this toy?

2. Respect your kid's views even when they are wrong: Given your kid's growing mental ability, it is natural that he or she makes a number of errors while answering your questions. These responses could be very bad or sometimes very funny! Ensure that you are respecting his or her views. Try to correct them in a highly diplomatic manner.

Sample scenarios:

  • Mommy, why this cat is barking?

  • Instead of answering “white”, you kid may say “Mom, this is blue”

3. Keeping the questions short and sweet: Often, parents commit cardinal mistake of asking very longish and difficult questions. Such questions may confuse your kid and make him or her not interested in answering further questions. Ensure that you are keeping your questions very brief and short. Never confuse your kid with difficult questions.

Sample scenarios:

  • What is this color?

  • How does a dog bark?

  • What is it? How does it look?

  • Can you arrange this board game?

  • How many eggs are in this basket?

  • Count them!

4. Relate everything with a visual thing or object: Kids can remember and recall any objects very easily. When you relate an event with that of an object or a thing, your kid will start thinking by using both audio and visual mode of communication. Try to enhance cognitive skills along with cognitive skills. Use plenty of colorful toys, board games and puzzle sets.

Sample scenarios:

  • Use a board game set to develop your kid's thinking skills in relation to skills of logic, prediction, math, colors and patterns. Let him or her start thinking how to solve a complex problem and find solutions for it.

  • Use cognitive enriching toys like block games, brick games, sequencing skill games and shape/pattern games to enrich learning experience.

In gifted children, teaching thinking skills is often a big challenge. Even though they are way ahead than normal children, we still need to make them think more and develop a range of skills. As parents, we may need to give them more to think and analyze about. Here are some basic ideas and suggestions to handle a gifted kid:

  • Children will always ask for help and assistance with their parents even for inconsequential things. If your kid asks you - “How should I do this” never provide any solutions to that problem. Instead, you can ask - “How do you want to do it” or “What can you do to solve that problem”. Make them think and work to solve the problem. Help them solve on their own.

  • If your kid asks for help to make a valid decision like - “How should I do this” or “What shall I do”, then you can pose dicey problem solving questions like “Do you have any plans in your mind to solve that problem” or “What do you propose to do”

Thinking skills are so essential to solve most ordinary problems and tasks that form the part of everyday life. Once your kid becomes proficient in thinking skills, you can rest assured that your kids have equipped themselves with the most important skills in their life.


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