Monday, October 3, 2011

Building Critical Thinking Skills in Small Steps

Montessori uses small deliberate steps to build your child's critical thinking skills.

For example, very young children are introduced to the Practical Life exercise of basic table washing using a sponge, bucket, and towel. This shows your child how to prepare materials, tackle a problem, test the results of a solution (touch the table!), and, if needed, try again.

The above example is a perfect type of exercise for a young child whose mind and body are both growing and eager for new information and skill-building activities.

Later in the Primary class years (2 1/2 to 6), children build on basic skills, learning to handle new materials, test new skills, and tackle and solve more complex problems.

For those of you at home, take advantage of activities out of the house. For example, write out a basic shopping list and give your child one or two items from it to find and bring back to the cart. At home, your child can help create the list, too. On subsequent trips, he or she can take responsibility for finding more items.

As your child learns to read and count, you can expand this type of activity by showing the unit cost of an item and begin to discuss pricing. By the time your child is about six, he or she should be able to look at the prices of, say, different packages of toilet paper and see if something makes sense to buy or not.

Discussion of the prices of, say, a box of brownies versus the ingredients to make them at home make a very succinct lesson. You can apply the same process to buying a pack of precooked chicken slices versus buying a whole chicken to roast.

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