As we enter a new year, we continue to explore our children’s minds in the making influenced by the work of Ellen Galinsky. With society continuing to become increasing interconnected, children enter the world already naturally wired to seek and Make Connections.
Beginning in infancy, babies seek patterns, categorization, and object sense. As children move into toddlerhood, they look for cause and effect and explore object sense. What happens when I drop my spoon on the floor? What else can I do with a fork; can it be a comb? Every time a child engages in a new experience, is drawn into a conversation, and asks and has questions answered, he forms new connections about the world. It is these connections that are the foundation of learning. Children are eager to learn, eager to know, and naturally open to think of the world in new and different ways. As parents, we can capitalize on this natural tendency and, in doing so, can encourage higher order thinking and encourage creativity.
- Provide opportunities for connections to be made in fun ways. Capitalize on children’s interests and endless questions to tie in other content. For example, if your child is really into a particular cartoon, talk about how cartoons are made, real life people who are in the roles they see in the cartoon, or how cartoons are similar to storybooks.
- Acknowledge mistakes as part of learning. Help your child learn that mistakes help us learn and grow. Model for your child how adults make mistakes too and how you understand things better because of this. For example, if you forget to get an item at the grocery store, talk your child through the importance of making lists to serve as reminders. When children see that even adults make mistakes, it makes their future setbacks less unsettling.
- Engage in pretend play as the ‘guide on the side’ as opposed to the ‘play boss.’ In guided play, you are an active participant but rather than dictating the play content or roles, take your lead from your child. Let them tell you what happens next, what the rules are, and who you are to be in the game.
- In critical thinking games or task, such as Memory games or sorting activities, narrate how you see your child thinking. This narration helps him or her by providing live feedback. For example, ‘You are looking for the fish that matches this fish. You remember we turned the other fish over last turn and it was somewhere in this section.’
Making Connections is a critical life skill for subsequent higher learning, social engagement, and creative expression; it starts early and continues to develop across the lifespan. For as the father of modern education, John Dewey, once said, “Arriving at one goal is the start to another.”
Stay tuned next month as we shift our focus to Critical Thinking.
Lauren Starnes, PhD- Manager of Curriculum and Instruction
Chesterbrook Academy Royersford is part of Nobel Learning Communities, Inc., a national network of more than 180 nonsectarian private schools, including preschools, elementary schools and middle schools in 15 states across the nation. Chesterbrook Academy provides high quality private education, with small class sizes, caring and skilled teachers and attention to individual learning styles. They also offer before- and after-school care and the Camp Zone® summer program. Chesterbrook Academy in Royersford, Pa. is a part of Nobel Learning Communities, Inc. Please visit our website Royersford.ChesterbrookAcademy.com for more information about our school and how you can enroll your child today.