By Sunny Tan
Critical thinking is the key to succeeding in maths. Many adults assume this is a skill that comes with age but in reality, this is not the case. In fact, a critical thinker must be trained from a young age. Parents need to nurture this skill and this process can start in the toddler years. Here are some fun and easy ways you can start to engage your little critical thinker:
1. Ask good questions: The root of higher order thinking such as analysis and evaluation is the art of asking good questions. Start to develop the habit of asking your children questions that do not have a definite answer but remember not to quiz them, just encourage their thought process.
2. Talk to yourself: Children pick up habits from their parents so why not try to demonstrate the act of critical thinking. Think aloud as you ponder. For example, be vocal about how you will get all your errands done on time. Your children will see how you evaluate your options and come to a conclusion.
3. Slow down: Young children are naturally inquisitive and frequently ask what, where, how and why? Don’t be too quick to answer their questions. Instead, start a discussion by asking them: “What do you think?” Let them share their thoughts on the situation.
4. Have some fun: Ask your child to pick an outfit for the day and whether they see any patterns (such as stripes and dots), colours, shapes or pictures. Ask them to find other patterns around the house and evaluate similarities and differences — bigger, smaller, bolder etc.
5. Today’s the day: Use a calendar to talk about the date, day of the week and weather. Calendars are a great way to get children counting and starting to think about sequences and patterns. Encourage their problem-solving skills by asking about the weather: “It’s going to rain today, how will we get to the shops?”
Sunny Tan is the author of ‘Mastering Heuristics Series’ and founder of Maths Heuristics. Maths Heuristics is the first organisation in Singapore to offer a total Integrated learning platform for mastery of heuristics to educators, parents and children in P3 and above. It comprises a suite of learning tools including classes, guidebooks, virtual classroom, web videos, and a mobile app for interactive step-by-step learning for child and parent to work through together.