A professor from my graduation university once told us a very simple thing. On pondering upon I wonder how he could have divulged us into such a beautiful message – “We are all born scientists.” Well, aren’t we? Toddlers have the tendency to reach new things as soon as they see it, unaware of its repercussions. They try to touch or feel it irrespective of the subject’s severity. For example, a child is not acquainted to the seriousness of fire yet they wouldn’t dither from advancing their hands towards it. We can see comparable propensities in children when they try to touch their mother’s neckpiece or their father’s tie or even while handling gadgets (yes, 21st century kids are that smart!).
But then wouldn’t it be miserable to let the scientists in these little ones perish gradually because of the ignorance of grown-ups. It is unfortunate if you have often witnessed how literally the sincere-yet-gullible questions that children ask are easily shrugged off by parents. Questions of a small kid could range from as silly as ‘Why don’t animals wear clothes’ to significant ones like ‘Who is a politician’. But to answer only those which to a parent sounds more ‘smart’ is not only cruel but an example of bad parenting.
Also there are times like these :
Daughter – “Mom, who is the person on the cover of this magazine?”
Mother – “What, you haven’t heard about him? He is the Chief Minister of State ‘X’. Shame on your general knowledge!”
Why should a child, irrespective of age, be embarrassed of their unfamiliarity? Knowledge is acquired, not inherited. Even a teenager, studying in a good school, could possibly show witlessness towards information and the causes vary each time – like the lack of proper guidance or fear of asking questions or feeling of inferiority among peers. To blame a child of cluelessness without identifying the root of his problem is nothing less than a delinquency. So yes! Children are born curious and this indicates why we must sincerely exploit this thirst for better results.
There are few tips which could be helpful in shaping the beautiful minds in our children –
Do not dismiss any of their questions as inconsequential, silly or awkward. Children hear a lot of things around them and it is unpredictable what hooks their attention. The questions might make you laugh or ignore or even can draw your ire. It is suggested that you as parent do none of them. Instead, try knowing how they heard of it and explain the meaning straight. Remember, children are quite cognizant and your timidity could fuel up their curiosity for all the wrong reasons if the question is awkward. Like if your child asks you a question from a reproduction chapter of his biology book, introduce them to the concept like a teacher would.
Before concluding their queries, let them muse over what they ask. Let them perceive themselves as problem solvers first. On asking questions, show them that you’re equally interested in their point of view even if it’s wrong. Ask them what possible ideas they carry about the subject in question and how they think it could be solved. Generally children fear being bashed for asking too many questions and also the stupid ones. To help them come out of the shell parents must construct a comfort zone by displaying their attention and curiosity.
Another most interesting way to develop critical thinking in children lies in parents asking their wards to research about their queries before concluding. Possibilities are parents know the answer but instead of immediate dissemination, a better way is to ask the children to explore possible answers by talking to other people or by spending more time on its observation or by reading about it. This habit will grow the intellectual in a child as they not only get to know about the subject in precise but in depth.
Foster a creative atmosphere at home. From providing space for innovations to welcoming creative expressions, do it all. It would be wrong to scale your child’s ideas and impose yours. Let them breathe and feel free to generate ideas. To spawn such routine parents can do small things to indulge their children like playing mind games, talking about their favorite artists, sharing your passions as well. Parents could encourage their children in decorating their room as well with proper discussion. The bottom line is to start caring about their aspirations.
All this indicates how parental attention and their time can boost up a child’s growth in critical thinking. But ofcourse there are times when situations need immediate action and could do without the long procession. The good news is children even learn upon observing your ways of decision making. However, short-cut is never the best route for your long term goals for your child’s future. Sensitization is the answer and it needs patience, courage and trust. Trust in your child’s future.