“Why” not “What”? Teaching Your Child Critical Thinking Skills

By: Ms. Tiffany, Early Childhood Teacher

PreschoolersChildren, at one time or another, enjoy talking. I hear many stories, ideas, answers, and conversations among groups of children on daily basis at work. Talking is a form of communicating. If children are not able to talk, they may have other ways of communicating.

When children talk with me or with other children, I like to expand their thoughts. Expanding children’s thoughts encourages higher order thinking. Bloom’s Taxonomy shows us levels of intellectual behavior and learning objectives that are important in education and children’s development through higher order thinking.  The levels include: remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating.

When thinking about these areas, I can form questions about the stories I read to everyday conversations at the snack table or during play. Basically, what  questions are fine, but we want to expand those to how and/or why questions. For example: I am reading a story called, This Is The House That Jack Built. I asked the question: “What type of building do you live in?” I receive answers like house, trailer, and apartment. It is a good question to ask if you expand on it. In one class, I made it into a graphing question and used math skills. In another class, we talked about, “How are houses and apartments different/same?” Now, I asked some how and why questions including: “How would you build a house?” “How does your favorite room in you home look?“ Why do you think the maiden is forlorn?” I received detailed answers and we formed discussions around the questions.

Family members can expand children’s thinking at home. It is as easy as asking: “Why did you do that?” after your child tells something that happened at school or asking “How do you think play dough is made?” when your child is playing with play dough. You may be surprised by their answers.

I have included some links to learn more about Bloom’s Taxonomy and questions that you can use.

http://www.odu.edu/educ/roverbau/Bloom/blooms_taxonomy.htm (overview of levels)

http://www.teachervision.fen.com/curriculum-planning/printable/52434.html (downloadable list of verbs used with the levels)

http://honolulu.hawaii.edu/intranet/committees/FacDevCom/guidebk/teachtip/questype.htm (types of questions that can be asked)

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