“Think from different perspectives.” Sounds all too familiar? This is a phrase we keep repeating to ourselves, to our friends as well as to our children. But, how can we make someone think? Have you ever wished you were able to impart your thinking process to someone else? But, thinking is not visible, it happens inside our brain. How do you cultivate visible thinking?
Is it possible to make thinking visible? How can we make it visible to our kids, just like teaching them writing or dancing? There are many ways to encourage visible thinking in children.
Visible Thinking is part of the Project Zero program of Harvard University. Educators practicing Visible Thinking make use of many thinking routines to enhance the thinking horizon of their students. Here are five strategies you can use in strengthening your child’s thinking habits.
1. Use the language of thinking
Many children have the habit of saying “I don’t know” when they are unable to express their ideas or think in a coherent manner. One powerful way for you to help your child in expressing their ideas is by using the language of thinking. “What makes you think so?”, “What is another way to do this?”, “What else?”, “Why does the other group think so?” Questions like these make your child think about their thinking patterns.
2. Circle of viewpoints
This activity encourages diversity of viewpoints. Often in groups, children (as well as adults) tend to get influenced by other people’s ideas and viewpoints. Encourage your child to pick up a particular point of view from available choices and talk about it. For example, if you are talking about pollution, they may pick up the viewpoint of the factory owner, the factory worker, the people suffering from the pollution, an environmentalist, an economist and so on. Use this activity to boost your child’s confidence in expressing their viewpoints, when those are different from other people’s.
You can do circle of viewpoints as a family activity. Take up everyday situations or funny scenarios as a starting point.
Ask your child to make as many questions as they can after they read a storybook or an academic book. The questions could also be related to a movie they watched or a game they played. It is the questions that lead to answers. Focus on the questions first, irrespective of whether they know the answers or not.
4. Get in touch with past experiences and knowledge
“What does it remind you of?” Use this powerful question in various situations and experiences. While helping in relating to their previous knowledge, this activity also helps in connecting with their emotions. The way they answer to this question does not have to be verbal all the time. Help them to express it in terms of words, pictures, music or movements depending on what their style is or the current mood they are in.
5. Storytelling without words
“How can you say stories without words?”, “What are the options?”, “It is impossible”. Be ready to hear these responses when you introduce this strategy. However, when your child realises you really mean what you said, they would start thinking. Now, their responses would be different. They may ask you questions like “Can I use puppets?”, “Can I use pictures or crafts?”, “Can I act it out?” This is a great strategy to make your child explore ideas on how they can express those stories in a manner another person can enjoy it, without the help of words.
Making thinking visible helps your child in cultivating good thinking habits and in expressing their thoughts clearly. Further more, it gives the confidence to play around with alternative plans and solutions.
For our workshops on thinking skills, please visit Thinkers Unlimited.
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