Topics in Early Childhood Education

Friday, December 10, 2010

Helping Children Become Thinkers

Several people reading my last post asked me to elaborate on encouraging curiosity in young children. Using my years in the classroom, I would like to suggest the following list of opportunities to help children develop thinking skills:

1. Present open-ended activities. Instead of having the child do a self- portrait by giving her a page with the outline of a body, give her several colors of construction paper, scissors and glue to create a picture of herself. The possibilities are endless.

2. Ask the child for his opinion. When issues occur in the classroom, instead of issuing commands, turn the discussion to the children. "Friends, we are having trouble remembering to clean the art center when we are finished. Do you have any suggestions for what we can do about this problem."

3. Conduct a daily share time activity. When I was teaching, I gave the children an opportunity to verbally share any information item they would like to that day (no show and tell items, just verbal sharing). I did insist that the children listen to the speaker (listening skills practice) and encouraged anyone to share. It was not a requirement, but an opportunity. It only took 3-4 minutes and was a great beginning to the school day.

4. Let the children be the teacher. Children learn many more things from their peers than they do from adults. I found the value of using other children as teachers early on in my teaching career. I routinely partnered my students so that they could share with each other during an activity. The thinking and discussion were so valuable that I looked for other opportunities to allow children to 'teach' each other.

5. Help children understand the 'why.' Discuss with children why they are learning what you are teaching in the classroom. "Girls and boys, why do you think it is important for us to learn the letters of the alphabet?" A routine why discussion will help children develop the thinking skills of reasoning and understanding the foundation of learning.

Helping a child develop thinking skills will open up the world to him, much like opening the shell of a clam.



At 12:21 AM, Blogger Shikha Kapoor said...


I work with a social media agency in Mumbai (India) and represent an IB school here.

Since you write on kids and various aspects related to them, I thought it would be great to connect as education is one of the most important elements.

With IB schools in India, kids residing in India or parents looking at relocating to India or sending their kids to study in India for education, can now expect the same quality of education that they would get anywhere in the world.

If you could share your contact details (email id), I could write to you in detail on this subject.

Look forward to your reply. You could write to me at


At 8:08 PM, Anonymous Clark County Traffic School said...

Very good advice John Funk, what is missing in our current education systems is collaboration, expression or presentation skills in students, due to our education system it's became like one will teach something student learn that, but they are unable to think behind the teachers suggestible solution, your suggestion will help to over ride this problem and also i think education activity doesn't limited to classroom it's should be like a way that student can play around the subject when learning which give them a good knowledge.

At 1:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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Besides the huge number of government sponsored and chain of schools, many independent schools in Bewdley are coming up. These schools have added to the options that are present for the parents. With a quality of education that prepares the students for a bright future in the future world, these educational institutions are home for the learning.

At 4:08 PM, Anonymous Mrs.A said...

I love your suggestion in helping children become thinkers. It is so important for us as educators to allow children to make independent choices and problem solve. We should allow children to be creative, encourage them to use their imagination, and acknowledging that their opinion and thoughts are important. Actives thinkers are what we all want to develop, but we must create an environment that is open-ended, creative and filled with inspiration and encouragement from the teacher.

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