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How To Teach A Child To Think


Some time ago, I was really disturbed about the trend in the classrooms. As one who seeks solutions to problems in my field, I had to sit up and read more.

It was about the child’s ability to analyze. His ability to think.

This was the scenario: The teachers had set exam questions for the term. I was supposed to approve the questions. Looking at most of the English and Mathematics questions, I knew it would be a walkover for the kids because the questions were too straight to the point. I simply rephrased them all and that was it!!!

On supervision during the days slated for the exams, I carefully observed each child. I knew already what the outcome would be and voila! Just as I thought – Poor grades!

So yes! I researched, asked questions, observed more children and this is what I found out:

In our setting, raising kids born into technology, urbanization, and modernization, there are a lot of activities going on around the child. Things have been made too simple and too easy for the child that they really do not need to think anymore. We, parents, do the thinking for them.

Let’s peep into the classroom. Each subject is taught for 35 minutes to a class of let’s just say, twelve children. Bear in mind that we have more time learners, fast learners, and all. The fast ones get the solution and run with it. The teacher tries to bring the more time learners up to speed, the bell goes, and it’s time for another subject. The more time learner doesn’t understand!!!

This more time learner goes home…

Parents have become preoccupied ‘chasing money’ that we have become very impatient with the child. So the scenario continues to play out: This more time learner, returns from school with some Homework, waits for daddy because she doesn’t understand fully what the work entails and so needs some form of guidance. Daddy gets back home from work after long hours in traffic, all tired and nursing the thought “can’t wait to hit my bed”. Has dinner. Mummy comes in shortly, all tired too. Kid brings out homework, tired parents help him solve the questions to save time. Child doesn’t understand, but well, Homework has been done!

We keep on…

The child shouldn’t be left without some form of work. Parents need to do chores. They need to rest. A kind of task is created for this same child to keep him busy.

Of course, as a parent, life is difficult in this part of the world then you add ‘no domestic staff’- a car in motion without brakes. So yes!!! There just has to be some form of help at home. So we employ domestic staff who carry out all house chores and the child simply sits to watch cartoons, or is on his gadget or is busy with some type of game. Did I forget?

The lesson teacher who is also employed to teach this ‘more time learner’ also doesn’t have so much ‘time’. Of course, he has other homes to conduct lessons and so his time is planned. The child is at home with his private tutor, oh yes! He has to drink water at will, use the loo at will and then time left for the main business is spent doing homework!

And the circle continues to go round and round and round. Pray tell, how can this child think?

Thinking skills are learnt. Such skills ought to be taught in schools and if not, then at home. The ability to think or analyze is a very important skill every twenty first century child needs to be successful.

Except we Parents take on this responsibility, refusing to blame the school or the society, we can never get it right. I have since learnt its important and have moved with it. Not just with my biological children but of course as you read the second paragraph of this article, all the children I teach. Do you consider this important?

 Here’s what to do:

  1. Plan your time. That child should be your first and utmost priority. (BOND, a Parenting journal, put together by me, is still available to help you plan your daily activities)
  2. Encourage the child to ask questions. I won’t even say this is easy. Imagine the girls (4) and I in a moving vehicle. Imagine what the car is like bearing in mind that girls can talk ‘well’. Then imagine having me put up with answering questions from four girls!!! Please don’t imagine!
  3. Ask them open-ended questions. I mean questions that don’t necessarily need a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ response. Continue by asking why they think this or that would’ve happened.
  4. Allow the child experiment. Provide age-appropriate time schedules for play.
  5. Avoid helicoptering your child. Allow them to fight their battles themselves while you chip in one or two pieces of advice ‘when and where necessary’. I wrote about this in one of my IG posts and someone asked, “does this mean, if a toy is taken away from my two-year-old by an older child, I shouldn’t help him get it back?” Of course not! You should give him some space to try getting it back himself. Sit and watch them struggle. Watch him fight the good fight. If it’s with a much older child, he most likely won’t win the battle. But it’s better you watch him not give up then give the older child some form of eye contact to share the toy or just allow them to do their ‘thing’. Kids always have a way of resolving their conflicts.
  6. When things need to be done in a certain way, we need to explain to them why it should be so.
  7. Get them to write.
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