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Doing Life Together

learning-928638_1920Developmental psychologists have long been studying what it takes to raise smart kids. The authors of Becoming Brilliant: What Science Tells Us About Raising Successful Children, provide insight into what parents can do to bump up key learning in parenting moments. The authors (Hirsh-Pasek &  Golinkoff) contend that we need to move away from just having kids spit out facts that they learn in school and focus more on other factors of success like navigating relationships, being in community and learning to work with others.

The authors look at six critical areas of development: 1) Collaboration–how well children develop community and work with others 2) Communication skills –reading,writing, speaking and listening 3) Content–reading and learning how to build content 4) Critical thinking-see below 5) Creative innovation which involves the power of learning something well in order to be creative about it 6) Confidence which allows children to take risks.

Let’s look specially at helping kids with critical thinking: Critical thinking involves 4 levels– someone tells you something is true; you also realize there are multiple points of view; you add your opinion and then look for the evidence. The more we work through this process of crucial thinking, the more we open ourselves to learn. Parents can cultivate this skill by allowing children to ask more about why things happen, how they happen and how to look at something from multiple points of view. Encourage your child  to ask more questions and be curious. For example, I use to take my kids to a local park, look at bugs and plants and ask them what they observed, how does the bug find food, who are his friends and if we were bugs, what would we be thinking? This was a fun, in the moment way to encourage their curiosity but also critical thinking.

What is important in helping your kids be smart is how you talk to them in the moment. Are you encouraging those 6 C’s listed above? Are you moving beyond the facts of a situation, not answering curious questions with statements like, “just because,” but rather encouraging your child’s curiosity and learning?

In a day when kids are taught more and more to simply get the right answer for a test, this type of learning in the moment is critical for kids to be smarter and more adept in their social world.

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