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Parenting: The Critical Thinking at Home

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Abstract

With the COVID-19 pandemic at large, children have been stuck at home. They are being unable to go to school and interact with teachers and friends; they can’t even go to playgrounds or the beach. We know that academic work, extra-curricular activities and sports are essential in the development of a child’s critical thinking which enables her to use reason and logic to judge a situation and react to it accordingly. However, children being stuck at home does not mean that their critical thinking development has to be compromised with. “Parenting: The Critical Thinking at Home” provides guidelines which parents can follow at home in order to develop their child’s critical thinking. The guidelines are simple and do not require things which are not easily available at home. Parents can easily guide their children by following the instructions without having to study or research anything, and it will be a fun way for both the parent and the child to spend fruitful time with each other which is the primary way in which a child can develop herself faster. Instructions have been provided with the help of which parents can guide their children to make certain models to understand their mechanisms. These models are also easy to make and have been carefully thought of so that the child can make them herself with a little bit of guidance from her parents. There are forward-looking instructions as well which parents can follow for their children once the pandemic is over. Focus has been given on ways to develop a child’s observation skills so that she can learn from her surroundings and also how to promote her communication skills. With the help of the book, parents will know how to guide their child in developing healthy habits and also teach them other important skills like brainstorming ideas, chunking large information, and summarising events and daily happenings. These too, will be fun exercises that the child can undertake with complete freedom as the book also focuses on how a parent can make the child free of any kind of pressure while developing herself.
Parenting: The Critical
Thinking at Home
Dr. Siddharth Suhas Kulkarni
Copyright© 2020 Dr. Siddharth Suhas Kulkarni
All rights reserved
All rights reserved by author. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in
a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical,
photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the author.
Published by an author
The views expressed in this book are entirely those of the author. The printer/publisher
and distributors of this book are not in any way responsible for the views expressed by
the author in this book. All disputes are subject to arbitration; legal actions if any are
subject to the jurisdictions of courts of Kolkata, India.
ISBN: 978-93-87853-03-4
First Published: August 2020
Cover Design:
Kushal Bhattacharya
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for Ridhi
The love of a family is life's greatest blessing.
- Eva Burrows
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
This book wouldn’t have been possible without my wife,
Akanksha and our loveliest daughter, Ridhi for who is the
inspiration behind writing this book.
I am also immensely grateful to Pinaki Ghosh of Power
Publishers, and his editorial team for contributing to the
success of the physical creation to completion of this book.
Last but not the least, I owe an enormous debt of gratitude
to my mother, Sangeeta and my father Suhas for their
unconditional love, devotion, and for their support in each
and every journey.
Introduction
With the COVID-19 pandemic at large, children have been
stuck at home. They are being unable to go to school and
interact with teachers and friends; they can’t even go to
playgrounds or the beach. We know that academic work,
extra-curricular activities and sports are essential in the
development of a child’s critical thinking which enables her
to use reason and logic to judge a situation and react to it
accordingly. However, children being stuck at home does not
mean that their critical thinking development has to be
compromised with.
“Parenting: The Critical Thinking at Home” provides
guidelines which parents can follow at home in order to
develop their child’s critical thinking. The guidelines are
simple and do not require things which are not easily available
at home. Parents can easily guide their children by following
the instructions without having to study or research anything,
and it will be a fun way for both the parent and the child to
spend fruitful time with each other which is the primary way
in which a child can develop herself faster. Instructions have
been provided with the help of which parents can guide their
children to make certain models to understand their
mechanisms. These models are also easy to make and have
been carefully thought of so that the child can make them
herself with a little bit of guidance from her parents. There
are forward-looking instructions as well which parents can
follow for their children once the pandemic is over.
Focus has been given on ways to develop a child’s
observation skills so that she can learn from her surroundings
and also how to promote her communication skills. With the
help of the book, parents will know how to guide their child
in developing healthy habits and also teach them other
important skills like brainstorming ideas, chunking large
information, and summarising events and daily happenings.
These too, will be fun exercises that the child can undertake
with complete freedom as the book also focuses on how a
parent can make the child free of any kind of pressure while
developing herself.
Contents
Chapter 1: Developing Critical Thinking as a Habit .................... 1
Chapter 2: Questioning Everything and Brainstorming ............ 17
Chapter 3: Chunking and Learning from Everything ................ 35
Chapter 4: Visualisation and Focusing on Details ..................... 53
Chapter 5: Teaching Critical Thinking as a Mindset Game ...... 69
Chapter 6: Exploring and Checking the Benefits of Critical
Thinking ............................................................................................... 84
1
Chapter 1:
Developing Critical Thinking as a
Habit
Critical thinking is a skill with the help of which we can use
our judgement and reasoning to analyse and respond to a
situation. It helps us to draw inferences from what is
happening around us and provide a better understanding of
it as well. It also enables us to learn from the situation as we
are able to apply our analytical skills which, in turn, increases
our knowledge. It is also an important skill for
communication as we learn how to respond to others and
respect their opinions and perspectives. Hence, it becomes
important for a person to grasp this skill from a very young
age.
From the moment we start to recognise or feel familiar with
our surroundings, we need to learn how to respond to them
as well. It is only then will it lead to our cognitive
development. The development of critical thinking is an
intriguing process and it calls for nurturing and care. A child’s
mind is like a clean slate and it is malleable. Our critical
thinking is also highly influenced by the society that we live
in and the culture that we are a part of. In other words,
external factors are largely responsible when it comes to the
development of critical thinking. So, it becomes important to
teach a child the best ways to respond to a situation. The ways
have to be socially and culturally appropriate, as far as
practicable, while at the same time they have to nurture her
mental development and should, in no way, hinder her
thought processes and creativity. Following these, your child
will be able to make informed decisions at her appropriate
age.
2
The COVID-19 pandemic has kept many of us at home with
social distancing being the need of the hour. Our children are
stuck at home along with us, they are being unable to go out
in the manner that they would like and interact with others.
Lack of interaction among children of the same age might
become detrimental to their mental development as it is one
of the many ways through which children can learn new
thoughts and broaden their horizon. So, it has become
important for parents to take up the responsibility of
developing their children’s critical thinking at home itself. It
might seem to be a difficult task at first, considering how
malleable a child’s mind can be. However, through the course
of this book we will see how we can practice simple things at
home in order to help our children develop their critical
thinking skills. Most of it will involve interactions that we
normally have with our children in any case.
Since we are spending more time with them now, knowing a
few steps to aid their mental development can go a long way
in nurturing them, as children trust their parents and feel
much more at ease compared to any other person. It can also
help to strengthen the bond between parents and children as
they will be interacting a lot with each other and learning is a
never-ending process. You will be surprised how creative and
3
analytical your children can become once they are able to
realise their potential. You can learn from each other because
being a parent is also a learning process.
The habit of thinking critically:
Critical thinking is a habit which a child needs to develop
from a very early age. And as such, every logical thinking has
to be backed by evidence so that a person can substantiate
the opinion or claim. As a parent, it is important that you
provide relevant and age-appropriate information to your
child while putting forward a statement so that she can learn
how to reason. You can start by focusing on the very basic
activities that all of us need to do, like eating food. You can
mentor your child to think critically about the food she is
eating. More often than not, we find that children tend to
avoid food which have nutritional value. This happens
because of the following reasons
1. Children tend to avoid such food because they do not
taste so good and prefer to eat food which are not so
healthy but otherwise have good taste.
2. They are also attracted by the packaging or
advertising done for such tasty food, maybe
television commercials or hoardings they might see
on the streets.
Of course, we all have to resort to such food in this day and
age as we are busy with our work but it is never healthy to
4
become dependent on such food. It is important to inculcate
the habit of eating healthy from a very young age. I have a
daughter who loves to eat fries or biscuits but used to be
slightly aversive when it came to vegetables or fruits.
However, over time, we have tried to make her understand
the importance of eating vegetables and fruits. We have tried
to explain to her how strong and healthy she can become if
she eats her vegetables and also shown her educational videos
and charts wherein the explanations are provided. She has
begun to grasp the importance and now she does not hesitate
like she used to before. She makes sure that she eats the fruit
she likes and does not throw away or avoid eating vegetables
anymore.
You can impart the same to your child too. You should try
and imbibe the importance of eating healthy in your child
from a very young age. You can start by telling your child
about how much nutrients there are in healthy food,
depending on her age and how much she can understand.
Follow these steps to make her understand the importance.
1. Start off by giving the child a fruit which she likes,
and then praise her for liking the same.
2. Explain the fruit’s nutritional value, as far as
practicable, for the child’s age.
3. Then place another fruit before her and explain how
that fruit too, is healthy just the same as her favourite
one.
4. Once the child is able to think about the need to eat
the second fruit, you can then move on to the others.
5
Teach your child to develop this as a habit. It is also
important to act as their guide rather than telling them
straight out that eating something is good while eating
something else is bad. Children tend to respond better when
they are explained the consequences of what their actions
might lead to. It is not that children do not understand, they
do when everything is explained rationally to them by going
down to their level of understanding.
You can also develop your child’s rational thinking with
respect to music by following these steps.
1. Give her a piece of music to listen to and understand
by her reaction whether she likes it or not.
2. If she likes the song and is able to understand the
lyrics, she will want to listen to it over and over again.
By doing so, a time will come when she will learn the
whole song by heart.
3. Later on, give her different kinds of music to listen to
and see what she likes or dislikes.
6
4. You can then ask her what she liked about a particular
song and what she disliked about some other song.
Even if it might be difficult for her to explain at such a young
age, but even if it helps her to think, that will be an essential
skill which will be of immense use in the future.
These habits can be better adopted if your child can practice
them with her friends as well. It will help them in their
cognitive development as the children will not feel
pressurised as if they have to study for an examination, rather
they will be willing to practice more since they are having fun
with their friends.
Playing games to develop critical thinking:
Playing games is another fun way of developing your child’s
critical thinking skills. When a child plays a game, it allows
her to logically think as to how she can finish the game. It
also provides a joy of finding out and makes the child want
to play more. You can let your child play different kinds of
games which can allow her to use logic to play. You can take
the following games into consideration.
Jigsaw puzzle A jigsaw puzzle is a good way of helping a
child develop critical thinking. When a particular piece of the
puzzle does not fit, the child will automatically try to fit in
another piece and slowly she will learn how to differentiate
among the different puzzle pieces that are available to her
and she will take less and less time to solve a particular set of
7
jigsaw puzzle as time goes on. However, make sure the jigsaw
puzzle you are giving her is age appropriate.
Stacking - You can also give your child some stacking games
to play. Stacking games help stimulate your child’s mind and
it is a fun way to keep them engaged while at the same time
making them learn about the different shapes and sizes of
objects. In this case as well, make sure the game is age
appropriate for your child.
Board games - You can also give your child some board
games. Board games are a fun way to make your child use
logic to play. Board games usually come with a set of rules
which the players have to adhere to while playing. This can
help your child understand instructions and then follow the
same. It can help develop both retention and application of
those rules. Before starting any board game, you will have to
provide a step by step explanation as to the rules of the game.
Generally, board games come with a set of instructions, ask
your child to read the same while you explain. You can also
demonstrate the game a little while explaining, as a visual aid
is always more useful while explaining a rule. Once you have
demonstrated the rules, you can ask your child to explain the
same to the family before she starts playing. Do not
pressurise the child to say everything correctly at the first
attempt. If and when the child explains something in an
incorrect manner, make sure that you explain over and over
again until the doubt is cleared.
8
When practicing this method with your child, you might find
that your child tends to explain the rules she understood quite
well with more detail while skimming over the ones she has
a problem in understanding. If that happens, take time in
explaining all the rules with equal care and if she falters, make
sure that you explain them over and over again. Of course, it
is also essential to not pressurise her into understanding
something which she feels is quite difficult to understand.
In the above diagram, we can see the steps that are needed to
develop critical thinking. You can try to inculcate these habits
in your child and help them learn how to think critically.
Children tend to become aversive to things they have a
problem in understanding, for example, fear of a particular
subject. The fear of a particular subject comes when a child
is unable to understand the subject. The same can be said
about the rules of a game. So, you can take extra care while
explaining the rules while at the same time ensuring that your
child does not feel pressurised, she can pick them up with
9
ease. Later on, she will also explain all the rules to you with
equal enthusiasm and detail and went about playing the game.
So, it is important to allow your child to feel free while
learning something. It is only then can she learn properly and
without the pressure of having to prove or be correct at the
very first attempt. You have to ensure that you do not give
orders to your child but rather everything should come as an
instruction, all the while explaining why a particular thing is
important to do and why something else should be avoided.
Parents as collaborators:
Children tend to learn more efficiently when parents act as
their collaborators in any kind of work that they do. Studies
have shown that learners do much better when they are asked
to work collaboratively rather than individually. Following
are the two broad benefits of collaborative learning.
1. It leads to discussion and churning out ideas which
can be difficult for an individual to come up with.
2. Collaboration leads to far better solutions to a
problem since it involves the ideas of two or more
people.
When you play along with your child while trying to teach
them the rules of the same, you will find that your child is
responding more to what is being said and she will also ask
more questions in case of a doubt. The child will be under no
kind of pressure to be correct at the very first attempt and
can learn at her own pace. Once the child is able to grasp it,
learning more will become a fun exercise. However, it is
important that you do not encroach upon your child’s
autonomy while acting as her collaborator. You should rather
act as a guide and further her thoughts and reflections rather
than simply directing her towards solving a particular
problem. You will see that your child’s autonomy is being
developed when it comes to critical thinking and she will be
10
able to put forward her own points of view regarding the
topic at hand.
Encouraging creative thinking:
You should also encourage your child to think creatively as
well. Creative thinking is very much linked to critical thinking
as without creativity your child might slowly become sceptic
to whatever is being taught as she will not be able to find any
solution to her problems. Nurturing creativity will allow her
to find innovative ways in which she can solve every problem
which comes her way and it will also make her more self-
sufficient. Instead of directing her to be creative about some
problem, you should look to provide an environment which
nurtures creativity. You can provide her with the tools
needed to be creative and show her how it can be done and
after that you can allow her to find her own solutions to the
problems. Of course, it has to be age-appropriate for the
child and you have to provide constant support, but you
should try and motivate your child to provide the ideas as to
how a particular problem can be solved.
Ensuring your child’s autonomy:
You should help her, as far as practicable, but not take over
her autonomy as it will lead her to become dependent on you
for the solution to the problem. This should be avoided as
much as possible. Even if she is unable to find a solution on
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