How to develop children's thinking skills

Apr 2012
Critical thinking skills are essential for children to be able to carry out problem solving in all subjects. A number of schools have introduced several ideas regarding how to foster thinking skills in children and these can be used by parents to develop children's skills in this area. Below are just some of the techniques that will stimulate your child's thinking skills.

Thought maps
These maps come in various guises and they can be used to compare and contrast two different concepts, to define what something means, to describe an object or to create a flow-map for different processes. As an example, a bubble map would help children to think of a number of different adjectives to describe a character or a scientific process. A bubble map with two branches and a meeting point in the middle would enable a child to compare and contrast different historical figures, for example, and also put their shared characteristics in the middle of the map.

Carroll and Venn diagrams
These are normally used in science and maths but they can have a number of different applications. A Venn diagram is two overlapping circles and children can use it to describe the contrasting properties of two shapes or habitats, as well as writing down their common aspects in the middle. A Carroll diagram has four boxes and allows objects to be grouped according to two criteria.

Creating solutions
Children can also develop their thinking skills by coming up with solutions to 'age-old' problems or developing a new product or invention. During teaching practice, Year 6 children usually have a Design and Technology day where they have to make a protective case for an egg using sugar paper and sellotape. The discussions sparked by this type of challenge allow children to brainstorm a number of solutions to the problem.

Moral dilemmas from stories in the government's SEAL (Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning) publications also present the perfect opportunity for children to utilise their creative thinking skills.