Help Develop Your Child’s Thinking Skills by Thinking Out-Loud

At home students watch their parents closely. They observe how they walk, how they talk, what they say, when they say it, what they do to relax, how they have fun and many more things. One thing children do not get to observe is what their parents are thinking, how they think, how they problem-solve, how they find meaning, or how they create. Obviously, they can’t see into your mind to know what is going on there, but what if we could show them? This is called Metacognition (thinking about thinking) and we can help them know how to think by talking to our children about our thought processes in real-time.

Well, what does this look like? Let’s say you are reading a book together with your children. “I don’t get it. Why would Little Red Riding Hood go into the forest in the first place? She knew it was dangerous. Why didn’t she listen to her mother? Ok let’s say she’s stubborn or foolish, why would she talk with a wolf on the way. Wolves don’t talk, but this one does. Maybe it’s not a wolf, but a person with wolf characteristics. A bad person. When the wolf beat her to her grandmother’s cottage, he ate her and then put on her clothing to catch Little Red Riding Hood. Why? Was he still hungry? Did he want to eat the goodies that she was bringing? Why didn’t she recognize the wolf dressed up as her grandmother right away? Maybe, Little Red Riding Hood was playing with the Wolf when she asked, “My, what big eyes you’ve got….” Either that or she had really bad vision and back in those days, they could not get eyeglasses. Faces are easy to recognize, even if you haven’t seen the person for a long time, we still recognize them. Does it matter if the story doesn’t make sense? What is the message? Though there are many messages, listen to your parents, don’t go into the woods alone, don’t be stupid, I think that the main message is that strangers are not to be trusted because sometimes they try to hid their real intentions and catch you when you are not prepared.”

I went a little overboard, and of course that would ruin the story, but it gives you an idea of things that you could say to your children while reading a story. These internal questions can then be turned into invitations for your children to say what they think. Especially in these days, when there is so much information…true and not so true, you need to help your children be critical and ask sense making questions. Metacognition talks can help.