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Developing childrens' thinking skills--how do you do it?

  1. #1
    thanka2 is offline Registered User
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    Developing childrens' thinking skills--how do you do it?

    As school is starting up again soon, I've been thinking about some education-related things.

    Some of my friends' children will be attending international or ESF schools. For us, unless things change a lot in the next year or so, our son will begin primary school in the local system. I teach in the local system so I am aware of some of the positives as well as the negatives of going this route.

    One of the areas where I think an international or more "western" education benefits children is in the areas of creative thinking, curiosity-led-learning, problem solving and self-efficacy. These fundamentals of being a good learner are simply not stressed in the local system.

    I want to know how other parents out there incorporate teaching these skills to their children in a day-to-day context?

    Please share your experiences.
    “Many women have described their experiences of childbirth as being associated with a
    spiritual uplifting, the power of which they have never previously been aware …
    To such a woman childbirth is a monument of joy within her memory.
    She turns to it in thought to seek again an ecstasy which passed too soon.”

    ~ Grantly Dick-Read (Childbirth Without Fear)

    Mother of Two
    JMW, boy, born November 29, 2007, 9:43 pm, USA
    MJW, girl, born March 17, 2011, 4:14 pm, HK

  2. #2
    pixelelf is offline Registered User
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    im back in sg but still visit this site :)

    thinking skills. im not sure if what we do at home is called "thinking skills". we do alot of reading at home. my son is now 4.5 years old, asks tons of questions regarding the stories he read. it can be very trying especially when im tired but i try not to diminish his enthusiasm. one of the things that i help myself not get snappy and to lead him to get his own answers is to spot interesting things in the pictures for eg. a lady bug appearing at some corner every page. he gets a kick searching for such stuff and comes up with his own reasons why they are around. sometimes we will spot words that sound the same like magician vs musician, too vs two etc. he actively soughts them out and asks the differences.

    we may sometimes, during the week draw together or play playdoh of stories he's read. all these little things he's spotted, turns up in his drawings and playdoh as well. it's quite interesting to observe. or he will request to eat certain food from the stories, for example spaghetti after reading "THE SPAGHETTI-SLURPING SEWER SERPENT " and retells the story at meal time to other family members at the table. all of which is entertaining and i feel a more enriching experience as compared to the worksheets books ive seen in sg that's supposed to "teach" thinking skills.

  3. #3
    AmyH is offline Registered User
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    Pretty similar situation to pixelelf in my house. My daughter loves reading and cannot turn a page without asking about a million questions about what is happening! During the week (while my son is at school and husband at work) there is a lot of time where it is just her and I in the house and we talk a lot. I have done this since she was born. When I am doing something I will explain what I am doing and she always asks why so I will ask her if she can think of a reason for it! This can be from washing dishes to having a shower etc.
    When it comes to activities I always give her choices. I never say "we are drawing pictures now/playdoh now" etc. I will ask her what she would like to play and she will come up with activities to do. Food is another area where she has choice. For lunch I ask what she would like to eat and give 2 choices. I always serve food in the middle of the table and she chooses her portions (I find that she eats more when she can put it on the plate herself!).
    At night time, after her bath, I will read her a short story and then ask her to tell me a story about her day. She gets very inventive with these but I figure it is helping her memory and story telling skills!

  4. #4
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    carang is offline Registered User
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    i think the best way to encourage thinking skills is to ask questions of your kids. i'm sure you do this already. when you are out and about, ask them about their surroundings, ask them about the things they see and if you see something wrong, ask them how they could try to fix it if they had the chance.

    really, thanka, i know you and i honestly don't think this will be an issue for you. this is something that you will do naturally in the course of a day with your kids anyway.

    AmyH, i think i will start having my kids take their own food, too. they do when we eat chinese style, but at home i serve them. i think i'll be stopping that now....

  5. #5
    thanka2 is offline Registered User
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    Thank you for your input ladies.

    My concern is that my son will enter school and become like one of the brain-numb students I teach. I think that already because he's growing up in HK (and his dad grew up in HK and influences him) he is far too much of a "box thinker." He still has that sweet, preschool curiosity to buoy him up but I really am concerned that as he enters school and subjected to the heavy (and often mindless) "learning" that will fade away. I've seen it happen to a lot of my students.

    I want to counter-act that. I want to challenge him to think and think deeply. Also, he's not a really talkative kid. He can be at points but only if he's interested in the topic. He's more of a do-er than a talker, actually. I want to raise him to be a resilient child. I want him to keep going and keep searching for the answer and not give up--that sort of thing.

    I find that his personality is quite sensitive. My husband's approach is that he wants to "toughen him up" but I'm not sure if I agree so much with that. But, I also would like to help him not be so affected or sensitive to difficult situations. I was the same type of child--but part of that was from the home I grew up in--when I was young, my home life was very difficult and so I "wore my heart on my sleeve".
    “Many women have described their experiences of childbirth as being associated with a
    spiritual uplifting, the power of which they have never previously been aware …
    To such a woman childbirth is a monument of joy within her memory.
    She turns to it in thought to seek again an ecstasy which passed too soon.”

    ~ Grantly Dick-Read (Childbirth Without Fear)

    Mother of Two
    JMW, boy, born November 29, 2007, 9:43 pm, USA
    MJW, girl, born March 17, 2011, 4:14 pm, HK

  6. #6
    nltempany is offline Registered User
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    Hi,

    I don't have any suggestions because I have just arrived in HK. I am facing a similar situation to you though because I have 3 children entering the local school system this year.

    Why does HK teach this way? Are they trying to change? Is the EB doing anything to change? I have heard that DSS schools have a bit more freedom in their choice of curriculum. Is this true.

  7. #7
    carang's Avatar
    carang is offline Registered User
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    I think a large part of the local school mentality comes from their cultural background. For thousands of years, Chinese were promoted upon their ability to memorise thousands of lines of text and therefore "pass" the civil service exams. The idea of learning to pass an exam is deeply ingrained in them and in their culture. As is the idea that a teacher stands at the front of the room and dictates to the kids. As a society, they are not huge on asking questions or curiosity for curiosity's sake. They are taught from a young age to sit and listen and not to question.

    I have two kids in local schools. My son is entering P2 in a week. I have found, however, that because of what our life is at home and how I am with him, he's not lost any of his enthusiasm for learning. He is full of questions because he is encouraged at home to ask them. My daughter is the same way. We work on problem solving all the time at home, in an informal setting, which is what I think Thanka already does without even thinking about it. I know her and I have no doubt that she will encourage her kids to think independently and outside the box just by being who she is.

  8. #8
    genkimom is offline Registered User
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    My husband and I have spent years trying to get our son to think creatively and independently just by giving him lots of basic materials to play with and encouraging him to design his own toys. We see things in the toy shop he likes and we ask, "How can you make this at home?" and then we go home and he makes (something like) it himself out of toilet paper rolls, or slabs of wood, or sticks or marbles or whatever. We also rarely answer his questions. We just ask him what he thinks the answer is and then ask him further questions to guide/refine his ideas.

    About toughening up your sweet little boy, we are in the middle of this process as well. When our son entered the first grade, he was the smallest in his class and wore his heart on his sleeve. When the kids realized how sensitive he was, they started to find ways to get his goat and even today when we picked him up from school he was sobbing because two boys were bullying him, and laughing because he was crying. This is the way it is in primary school, no matter what school no matter what country. The weakling gets picked on. And it will only get worse if he continues to show it is getting to him. I have worked at many schools both in the US and overseas and it is always the same story. I never thought I would say this, but now I see the merits of toughening up a sensitive child and getting them to have a thicker skin before they are at the mercy of their peers.

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