Teaching our Children to Think

4 Minutes to Read -

Teaching our children to think for themselves blog image

We all want our children to succeed, right? We want our children to be independent, able, brave and great thinkers. Have you thought about how you can help your child become a success? Well, I have and I want to share something with you that I feel is invaluable in helping your child become the best they can be. My reason for writing this article today is because of my experience at work and as a parent who wants to see her children reach their full potential.

As a lecturer, working with young adults, I have come across too many students who are unable to think for themselves! Yes, you read that right… I said THINK! As crazy as that may sound, it is sadly very true. You ask them for an opinion and you get a blank stare. You ask about how they would feel if they were a character in a book and they say, ‘I don’t know!’  You ask them to create an imaginative story, and they have no idea where to start.

Now, I am scared. That is not an exaggeration at all. I start to question what happened to these kids before they came to college. What went wrong? Why they were not taught about higher order thinking? Why they were not taught to think for themselves??? To reason, evaluate, analyse and create? What is going wrong with our children? Do we want our children growing up unable to resolve problems, or unable to argue their points or develop their own ideas and express them? Of course not! So, what can we do to make sure that doesn’t happen?

Teachers have to do various courses and training before we can start to teach. We have to cover a lot of theory during that time and one of those theories is called Bloom’s Taxonomy. Now, I don’t want to get all technical but I think it’s really important for us, as parents, to understand this theory because it can really help our children if we are able to use it in our everyday lives. Now, your children’s teachers will be using this theory in their teaching and probably know it like the back of their hands. So what is it all about?

If you do an internet search, you will be bombarded with information about Bloom’s Taxonomy and it can be overwhelming, so I am going to attempt to break it down for you so that you have a clear understanding of it and how you, as a parent can use it with your children.

Let’s begin!

What is Bloom’s Taxonomy?

Bloom’s Taxonomy is a tool used in education that explains the process of learning. It begins with remembering and understanding information and progresses on to being able to evaluate and analyse it. The model distinguishes between different levels of thinking, learning and understanding.

If your child can move their way up the different levels, they will develop skills for higher order thinking. What are these levels? Here they are. I have included a very simple example for each to help you understand, (I often use the examples to remind myself how it works!) When reading the various levels below, imagine your child has just done some reading on apples. I have also included an example of how you might already be using these levels with your children when you listen to them read.

  1. RememberCan your child recall what an apple is? This is the part where they acquire the knowledge, reading a story book and recalling the story.
  2. UnderstandDo you understand how an apple grows? This is the part we do when we have read with our child and we ask them questions about the story.
  3. ApplyHow can you use apples? (Make a pie!) This is where you may ask your child to modify the story and ask them how the story would change.
  4. AnalyseCan you compare apples? (Red ones, green ones etc.) When reading with your child, you may ask them to compare two different characters.
  5. EvaluateWhich apple is the best and why? This is where your child can express their opinion of the story and characters but back it up with evidence, e.g. ‘Little Red Riding Hood is careless because she spoke to a stranger even though she knew that this could be dangerous and put her family and herself at risk’.
  6. CreateCan you invent a new recipe using apples? This is where your imagination can go wild! You get your child to re-write a story, changing up the characters, change the setting, time period, the possibilities are endless.

I want you to think about moments with your child where you are both engaging in an everyday activity that could be an opportunity for learning.  That could be doing a painting, baking cupcakes or even doing the shopping. Look at the levels above and ask yourself how far do you push your questioning? Do you stop at understanding or do you really push to the ‘create’ stage and get them to change that cupcake recipe into something SPECTACULAR!!

It’s not easy, I know. I will hold my hands up and say that I very rarely push my children to the highest level but I’m really not helping them by not pushing them. So first and foremost, I know I have to make some changes. I thought it might be a good idea to write a list of questions where we can incorporate higher order thinking into our lives without it feeling like a chore or taking up too much of our time!

The table below uses some question starters relating to each level of higher order thinking. I have also provided an example of how you could use each question in different areas of our very busy lives. You’d be able to download it from the bottom of the article & stick on your fridge!!

Teaching our children how to think for themslves

The more you form a habit of using questioning as a tool to develop higher order thinking in your child, the more likely your child is to reach their full potential. Creativity, intuition and higher order thinking represent our greatest potential.

Most people do not reach their full potential, we are less than what we can really be, we all have great capacity however, and those talents remain dormant or undeveloped. Use this tool to help yourself and your child unlock those dormant talents. I shall leave you with this wonderful quote from Marva Collins, an American Educator; “The essence of teaching is to make learning contagious, to have one idea spark another.”

Read More:

Storybook Stars – Help your child get the most out of their reading.

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