Thursday, February 2, 2012

Part 1: Making Thinking Visible at Home

I have been reflecting on some of the things we have applied recently regarding making thinking visible at home. Here are the top 3 activities that we are now starting with the children.

1. Make asking questions a routine.
The past few days we have started on the "5 things you did in school today" asking routine. This gets Katie to reflect on what she has done or who she has played with. Hopefully this routine instills in her not only the sense of awareness to her daily activities but also and more importantly get her to freely share her day's events (and keep such interaction up until she's an adult!). For the younger one, we use "3 things" instead of 5. As enrichment though whenever they answer a short line I always try to follow it up with questions such as where? with whom? what happened? how did you feel?

What is encouraging about this asking routine is that a few days ago after picking up Katie from school and asker her 5 things, she turned to me and said "now Mama your turn, what are 5 things you and my brother did at home?" Isn't that well worth the energy? :)

2. Start them early on mind mapping.
Children communicate best through drawings. After an eventful day, give them a diary/blank notebook where they can draw what they did or enjoyed for the day. Encourage them to draw what they did first, second, third, etc. Make a written account on their narration on a separate paper and then attach it at the back of their drawings so as not to ruin their creative output (this I am learning to do just now). For older children enrich the process by making simple mind maps with a center as a topic (or the date) and the branches with drawings of different events or activities. They can also be encouraged to draw symbols and use different colors to express different emotions. Later on this can be used as a planner for the day (What 5 things you will do/accomplish for the day) instead of being a recording of what has already transpired. I can't wait to get Katie into doing this! For now she is still practicing with her diary drawings but soon enough I'll definitely introduce this technique with her.

3. Don't be afraid to use "big words".
It makes me beam with pride whenever I hear our 3 and 4 year old say "I have a plan." Words like "think, reflect, design, create, constuct, and plan" should be staple words used in conversing with children. Remember that children need to be exposed to different terms to enrich their vocabulary and their repertoire of "thinking words" should also grow for them to fully express themselves and their thoughts.

No wonder that our 4 year old looked at me like I came from another planet when I asked her where she got the idea of wanting to ride a horse for her 6th birthday (yes, she has her birthday gifts planned till she's 17!!!). She looked at me, placed her index finger on her temple and said "from my brain Mama, I got the idea from my brain." :)

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