The Time of Childhood Innocence is No More.
The days are gone when little kids can play with their G.I. Joe action figures (Wow, I’m showing my age) or Barbie dolls without their parents being concerned about the learning advantage their child is gaining or if this toy will help get their child accepted into Harvard. Say, “hello” to the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Nowadays parents play classical music for their fetus in the womb with the hopes of setting their child on a path of academic and career excellence. Just like IMar Learning Solutions is trying to help promote critical thinking in adults, companies like Fisher-Price, for example, have joined in the fight to help parents ensure that their children do not fall victim to the critical thinking gap that plagues society.
Fisher-Price’s, Think-and-Learn toy line produces toys to help reach kids as early as three years old to aid in their development of critical thinking skills. Fisher Price states in its product description that the Code-a-Pillar for example, “inspires little learners to be big thinkers by encouraging preschoolers to arrange (and rearrange) the easy-to-connect segments in endless combinations, sending Code-a-pillar on his path. This learning toy encourages experimentation while developing important skills like problem-solving, planning and sequencing and critical thinking.”
Toys That Teach
Fisher Price says that their Think-and-Learn toy line, “fosters 21st-century skills…in ways kids haven’t seen before.” I truly appreciate Fisher Price’s effort to help give parents the choice to give our toddlers toys that will help develop the skills that they will need to flourish and prosper during the Fourth Industrial Revolution. As a parent of a four-year-old and a 2-year-old, I know I have to make choices that help prepare them for an uncertain future in the economic turmoil we face today.
In my previous post, Are You a Victim of the Skills Gap, I mentioned Richard Paul’s article, The State of Critical Thinking Today, and how colleges are not preparing students for the real-world tasks that they will face. TheWorldEconomicForum.org believes that the top 6 skills needed to be successful in 2020 are: Complex Problem Solving, Critical Thinking, Creativity, People Management, Coordinating with Others, and Emotional Intelligence.
Parents have to keep all of this in mind so that their children are prepared to be successful. I am an educator myself and I can speak with authority on the fact that the educational system does not prepare our kids to problem solve creatively and it does not ensure that ALL students have high levels of social and emotional intelligence. As a parent, if you are not aware of how to make sure your child has these skills, do not fear because there are resources available to help you help your child.
What Can Parents Do Now?
Bernard Marr quotes Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, in his article written for Forbes.com, Why Everyone Must Get Ready for the 4th Industrial Revolution, as saying, “The changes are so profound that, from the perspective of human history, there has never been a time of greater promise or potential peril.” Yes, the revolution can be a time for peril and concern, but I see it as an opportunity. Schwab also said it is a time of great promise. Now you know that the change is coming, it is not too late. Marilyn Price-Mitchell, the founder of Roots for Action, stated in her article, Critical Thinking: How to Grow Your Child’s Mind, that parents can help their child by:
- Inviting them to BE CLEAR by asking for explanations and examples when they don’t understand something. Let children know it is okay to be confused and ask questions.
- Urging kids to BE ACCURATE, to check to see if something is true by researching the facts.
- Encouraging children to BE RELEVANT by discussing other topics that are pertinent to the discussion or problem at hand. Help them stay on track by linking related and meaningful information to the question they are trying to answer or the topic they are learning about.
- Supporting your child’s ability to BE LOGICAL. Help her see how things fit together. Question how she came to her conclusions and whether her assumptions are correct.
- Setting expectations that your child BE FAIR. Promote empathy in his thinking processes. Make sure he considers others when drawing conclusions.
As a parent, it is easy to get bogged down with the daily stressors of life, homework, piano lessons, soccer practice, cooking dinner and that is all in one evening for some parents. But, if we aim to set our kids up for success, we have to practice using these strategies every chance we get because our children depend on us and if we do not do it, we cannot expect their professors and teachers to do it for us.
Growing Your Own Mind
The only way for parents to keep up with the technological advancements and changing landscape of job needs you have to become a lifetime learner. Yes, you may have graduated college and have a successful career, but I truly suggest that you research and keep track of what the future of your career field is transforming into. Even in middle schools today, students are using Mac Books, I-Pads and Chromebooks every day and articles are being written to question if teachers in the classroom can be replaced by technology. I say this not to scare you but to prepare you. As a lifetime learner, I believe assessing your level of critical thinking skills and understanding if you are a victim of the skills gap will help start you on your journey that allows you to walk two steps ahead of the competition. TheWorldEconomicForum.org stated that Complex Problem Solving is the top skill needed to be successful in 2020. So, below you will find a list of resources to help you solve this complex problem of preparing your children and yourself for the uncertainty that awaits us.
Critical Thinking Resources for Parents and Children:
IMar’s Critical Thinking Academy offers 11 online lessons that can help parents develop their own critical thinking skills. By enrolling in this course you will gain access to lectures on IMar’s BIG 6 skills of critical thinking success, take self-assessments so you can analyze your current skill levels, learn strategies and techniques for improvement, and work collaboratively across timelines with other classmates to communicate and share ideas.
Bright Horizon learning centers are only available in certain areas but they do offer Learning at Home kid activity resources for parents. Some of these resources include:
Art in a Can–this is a fun activity to help your little one explore his/her artistic side with a few household items and this project can actually get done with very little messiness.
Beach Ball Math–only needs 2 items that you might have around the house already and helps your little one practice math skills in a fun and engaging way.
Multiplication War-this is a very easy game to set up and it only requires a deck of cards and is awesome to play during road trips or waiting for a bus or flight.
“Encourage Play is all about social skills and helping kids connect through play. “Play” is the best way to learn anything, so we use simple and intentional play ideas to encourage connections between children and in families. We also provide practical resources that can be used at home or at school to practice and build social skills,” states Encourage Play on their website. This site is an excellent resource to help your child develop their IMar “Big 6” skill of critical thinking, Social and Emotional Intelligence.